President Trump joked Thursday that he would "do very well" in a physical boxing match against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump, speaking at a campaign rally in Minnesota, was defending his conduct at a July summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
"With Putin of Russia they said, 'He was too nice'. That was a great meeting," Trump said. "They want me to get into a boxing match with him."
After a dramatic pause, he smiled and added, "I think I'd do very well."
The Helsinki summit concluded with a press conference at which Trump appeared to side with Russia over U.S. spy agencies and prosecutors who allege Russia hacked Democratic emails in 2016. Standing beside Putin, Trump said "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia. He later said he misspoke.
Trump told the Minnesota crowd he also was unfairly criticized for meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, and before that for using harsh rhetoric.
"It's the fake news, fake news. They said with Russia he was too nice, he was too nice. With North Korea, they said he was too tough, he was too tough," Trump said. "Let me tell you, if I was really rough with Russia, they would say he was too tough. These people are loco, I'm telling you, loco. These people are crazy. The fake news."