President Donald Trump was "acting more statesman-like" by not joining Fox News' Bill O'Reilly in calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a "killer" on international television, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Monday.
"It's interesting that so many critics of Donald Trump say he is unfiltered and he will get us into all kinds of disputes with foreign governments because he is too blunt," Huckabee told Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "He is like the New Testament character of [the disciple] Nathanael, in whom there is no guile. No pretense, no phoniness. What you see is what you get."
During a pre-game interview airing before the Super Bowl Sunday, Trump asked O'Reilly if the United States is innocent, after the Fox News star called Putin a killer.
Trump's response that "there are a lot of killers. Lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" has met with outcry from both Democrats and Republicans, who complained he was making an unfair comparison between Putin's Russia and the United States.
"So Donald Trump is acting more statesman-like and saying 'I'm not going to call another foreign leader a murderer or thug' on international television," Huckabee said. "That makes it hard to work with them. So he doesn't do it and instead of the press saying 'yes, you know, he is acting more presidential now rather than just firing off,' now he gets in trouble for that. Proof positive, whatever Donald Trump says as president, somebody is not going to like it. But a lot of American people do."
On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he rejected the comparison, while also commenting federal money should not be spent on Trump's call for a voter fraud investigation, and Huckabee called his reaction "normal."
"They always distance themselves from the executive branch," said Huckabee. "I think what McConnell has to be careful of is he doesn't want to alienate the 60 million voters who voted for Donald Trump and who frankly were as mad at Republicans, leadership and all, as they were at the Democrats. He has to be careful that he doesn't sort of signal that he wants to keep the swamp filled with gators and frogs and all kinds of reptiles and he is going to pour water back into it."
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