(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a “crazy SOB” and took a swipe at Republican rival Donald Trump for likening himself to Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who died last week in a remote prison.

The off-the-cuff comments, made at a pair of West Coast fundraisers, aren’t the first time the US leader has gone off script at private events to raise money for his campaign ahead of November elections. Polls show Biden and Trump, his predecessor, slugging it out in a rematch of the 2016 race that is growing into an increasingly uglier war of words.

“We have a crazy SOB like that guy Putin, and others, and we always have to worry about nuclear conflict,” Biden said Wednesday at one event, adding that climate change is still society’s existential threat.

Putin said the criticism confirmed the belief he expressed last week that Biden was the better option for Russia at November’s US presidential election. 

“This is a normal reaction to what I said. And why? Because he can’t tell me - ‘Volodya, well done, thank you, you helped me a lot’,” Putin told a Russian TV reporter late Thursday, using a short form of his own first name. “We understand what is happening there from a domestic political point of view, and such a reaction is absolutely normal, which means I was right.”

In a Fox News town hall on Tuesday night, Trump compared his legal troubles to Navalny’s fate, calling the activist’s death a “very sad situation” and asserting that his four criminal indictments are politically motivated. 

Biden said he didn’t know “where the hell this comes from.” 

“It astounds me the things that are being said,” Biden said. “I mean, if I stood here 10, 15 years ago and said any of this, you’d all think I should be committed.”

He went on to make a scathing assessment of the state of the Republican Party.

“I’ve served with real racists. I served with Strom Thurmond. I served with all these guys that have set terrible records on race,” said Biden, who was first elected to the Senate in 1972. “At least you could work with some of these guys. Time and again, the Republicans show they’re the party of chaos and the party of division.”

Biden, 81, is known for his straight talk. Back in January 2022, he was caught on a hot mic calling a Fox News reporter a “stupid son of a b*tch.” He’s also feeling the political heat, fielding a constant stream of criticism about whether as the oldest sitting president he should be putting himself forward for another four years in office.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier Thursday called Biden’s dig at the Russian president “boorish,” but unlikely to offend Putin. “If the president of such a country uses such language, well, then he should be ashamed,” Peskov told Russian media.

Biden is on a three-day tour of the West Coast, attending fundraisers in Southern and Northern California that will add to the $130 million that his campaign had amassed as of the end of January.

Twilio Inc. co-founder John Wolthuis and Nat Simons, co-founder of the Sea Change Foundation, were among the scheduled attendees at the first event, according to a person familiar with the matter, while Gordon Getty, the son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, was on the guest list for the second. 

--With assistance from Greg Sullivan and Olga Tanas.

(Updates with Putin comment in the fourth paragraph)

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