More Republicans viewing Putin favorably

“It is dizzying,” said Vajdich, who has worked on the presidential campaigns of Gov. Mitt Romney, Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ted Cruz, all of whom represented the decades-old consensus view of Russia. “It’s just totally unexpected and counterintuitive to see how Republicans have shifted. I do think it has something to do with the general attitude that Trump expressed towards Putin and Russia. There’s no doubt there’s a very direct causal relationship about the permission he gave people.”…

“It’s just based on the ancient principle the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I don’t think it’s much more complicated than that,” said Larry Sabato director of the center for politics at the University of Virginia. “The Republican base, particularly the Trump part of the Republican base, is going to regard anyone and anything that helped their great leader to win as a positive force, or at least a less negative force.”…

But there’s another aspect to the affinity between some Republicans and Putin.

Putin has fashioned himself as a defender of traditional values around the world, something that has a particular appeal to the socially conservative elements of the Republican Party. He’s actively pushed anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion legislation in his country. Just this week, the Russian government prevented the UN Security Council, in their statement about outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, from praising the Korean’s promotion of LGBTQ rights during his time in office.

“President Putin sees himself as the leader of the conservative world, battling decadent liberal values,” former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul told POLITICO. “When I was in the government there were overtures between evangelical and conservative religious organizations and Russians, including those associated with the government. … What brought them together was an ideological affinity about issues like LGBT in particular.”