Jeb Bush says Vladimir Putin has changed from the days when his brother looked the Russian leader in the eye and saw his soul.
"He’s much more — he’s just invaded another country," Bush told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday, according to the Post's Karen Tumulty. “That was different than it was a decade ago. This is a different, this is a different Putin, much more aggressive."
From American leaders' eyes, Putin's personality has indeed changed dramatically. He's been called everything from trustworthy to a stone-cold killer. Here's a recap of what our political leaders have said about Putin over his 16 years in power.
The Democratic president, who worked with Putin until Clinton left office in 2001, has made some of American leaders' most glowing comments about Putin.
Speaking in Dubai in 2014, Clinton said Putin is "pretty transparent. He never pretended to be what he wasn't."
Putin is also "highly intelligent" and trustworthy, Clinton told Fareed Zakaria in that same interview:
"I found in dealing with him — and by the way, with most other leaders with whom I had differences — that it was best to be brutal with him in private and be honest because they respected you if you were, and then as long as you could, to avoid embarrassing them in public."
Clinton did have some criticism: Putin is "brutally blunt," and "I think he's got a sort of fatalistic view of the misfortunes that befall ordinary people when larger things are at stake."
The Republican president has uttered probably the most famous comments from an American leader about Putin. After first meeting Putin in 2001, he flattered the Russian president:
"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. I was able to get a sense of his soul: a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country."
But all bets were off when Putin dissed Bush's diminutive dog. Bush reminiscing in 2014 to his daughter on NBC's Today Show:
"As you know, our dear dog Barney, who had a special place in my heart — Putin dissed him and said, ‘You really call that a dog?'" Bush said. A year later, he went to visit Putin at his dacha outside Moscow, Bush recalled, and Putin introduced his own dog: a "huge hound" much bigger than Barney."Putin kind of looks at me and he says 'Bigger, stronger and faster than Barney.'"
Sure enough, Bush pulled a 180 on Putin after he left office. In 2014, he told CNN: "I think he's changed." After the price of oil went up in his country, Bush said, "I think it changed his attitude." “And I think it emboldened him to follow in his game that is pretty much zero-sum, you know -- I win and you lose and vice versa."
Bush's defense secretary, who served from 2006 into Obama's presidency in 2011, whole-heartedly disagreed with the first president he served.
Gates said after he left office that he “looked into Putin’s eyes and, just as I expected, had seen a stone-cold killer.”
The Arizona senator and 2012 GOP presidential nominee also disagreed with his predecessor's soul-searching assessment of Putin.
While running for president in 2008, Tumulty noted, McCain said he looked into Putin's eyes and "saw three things -- a K and a G and a B."
(Indeed, before politics, Putin spent 16 years as an officer with Russia's spy agency.)
The current vice president has publicly shared perhaps an American leader's most candid and behind-the-scenes moment with Putin. In a 2014 interview with Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, he recalled visiting Putin in the Kremlin in 2011:
"I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, 'It's amazing what capitalism will do, won't it? A magnificent office!' And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him." Biden held his hand a few inches from his nose. "I said, 'Mr. Prime Minister, I'm looking into your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul.' "
"You said that?" I asked. It sounded like a movie line.
"Absolutely, positively," Biden said, and continued, "And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, 'We understand one another.' " Biden sat back, and said, "This is who this guy is!"
Probably more than any other politician on this list, Hillary Clinton is not a fan of Putin.
Let's start with her 2008 bid for president, in which she said: "He was a KGB agent. By definition, he doesn’t have a soul."
As secretary of state, her 2009 reset button gift to Russia's foreign minister didn't go well over, either.
Then, in 2014, after Russia invaded Crimea, Clinton made an even more startling comment at a private fundraiser in California. She said that Putin handing Russian passports to those with Russian ties beyond the country's borders reminded her of Adolf Hitler's bid to protect ethnic Germans who were living outside Germany at the time:
"Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the '30s."
While campaigning in 2011 and 2012, that year's GOP nominee raised eyebrows with strong criticism of Putin.
Putin, Romney said, "is a real threat to the stability and peace of the world."
Later, he doubled down by saying by saying Russia was the United States's No. 1 "geopolitical foe."
At the time, Romney's assessment of Russia's place in our world was widely panned, including by President Obama. But by 2014, some saw him being largely vindicated when Putin invaded and annexed Crimea.
The current president has never really been friendly with Putin.
In 2013, he compared Putin's odd body language to "a bored kid in the back of a classroom."
After Putin's invasion of Crimea, Obama said Putin is bad for Russia:
“Does he continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire?"
And in an interview with Buzzfeed this year, Obama said Putin looks at the world with a Cold War lense:
"I don’t want to psychoanalyze Mr. Putin. I will say that he has a foot very much in the Soviet past."
And finally, a postscript: No matter what our country's leaders think if Putin, can we just acknowledge it all sounds exactly like the Russian president on House of Cards?