After Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter at Ohio Governor John Kasich on Monday, the 66-year-old Republican who opposed Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign posted a reply that had Twitter users buzzing — posting an animated GIF image of Russian President Vladimir Putin chuckling. Trump has been widely criticized for his longtime admiration for Putin and, as CNN has reported, has praised Putin publicly in statements dating back to 2013 when Trump wondered if Putin would become his “new best friend” when Trump went to Moscow that year for the Miss Universe beauty pageant.
In Trump’s attack on Kasich Monday, he blamed Kasich for the narrow margin of victory for a Republican, Troy Balderson, in last Tuesday’s special election in the state’s 12th Congressional District, as The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
“The very unpopular Governor of Ohio (and failed presidential candidate) @JohnKasich hurt Troy Balderson’s recent win by tamping down enthusiasm for an otherwise great candidate,” Trump posted to his Twitter account.
Despite Trump’s claim that Kasich is “very unpopular,” the Ohio governor enjoys a 52 percent approval rating within his state, according to a Quinnipiac University poll cited by The Dayton Daily News.
That rating is significantly higher than Trump’s own nationwide overall approval rating, which as the Inquisitr reported, remains below 42 percent in a nationwide average of all major polls. The most recent Quinnipiac poll gave Trump a 38 percent approval rating.
Balderson emerged with a very narrow lead in the vote, and Kasich said last week that the thin margin in what is normally a safe Republican district “was basically a vote on what people thought about Trump,” according to The Hill.
When Trump attacked Kasich on Twitter, perhaps provoked by Kasich’s remark, the governor quickly replied.
The clapback had Twitter users either praising Kasich — or wondering if someone else actually posted the Putin GIF.
One Twitter user responded with a GIF of her own, digitally altering a controversial moment during the 2016 campaign when NBC Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon playfully mussed Trump’s hair, a moment that, The AV Club reported, Fallon later said he regretted.
While Trump claimed in his tweet that Balderson had scored a “BIG victory” over Democrat Danny O’Connor, as of Sunday, August 12, The New York Times continued to describe the race as “too close to call,” with Balderson holding a lead of approximately 1,500 votes in the district or about 0.8 percent.