HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Donald Trump is once again pushing back on characterizations by his Democratic rivals that he’s too cozy with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He says at a rally in Henderson, Nevada, that people say, “Donald Trump loves Putin. I don’t love, I don’t hate, we’ll see how it works.”

Trump says that maybe he and Putin will have “a good relationship. Maybe we’ll have a horrible relationship. Maybe we’ll have a relationship right in the middle.”

But he is repeating his willingness to work with the strongman to combat Islamic State group militants despite disagreements between the two countries.

Trump says, “If we got along with Russia and Russia went out with us and knocked the hell out of ISIS, that’s OK with me.”

Washington this week suspended direct U.S.-Russian talks on a Syria cease-fire in a move blamed on Russia’s rejection of diplomacy in favor of helping the Assad government.

Meanwhile, supporters and protesters gathered outside the Henderson concert venue ahead of the first of two Nevada campaign rallies featuring Republican presidential candidate.

Robert Hartwick of Mohave Valley, Arizona, drove two hours to join a line that began forming shortly after sunrise Wednesday outside the 6,500-seat Henderson Pavilion.

Hartwick, a train engineer for 38 years, said he was attending his fourth Trump rally this year in Nevada and Arizona.

He says the country needs a president who understands how business and labor work.

Leaders of a coalition of liberal and conservation groups organized a peaceful but loud protest at nearby corner.

They’re focusing on what they call degrading remarks by Trump about women and his refusal to release tax records.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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