The Press-Telegram of Long Beach, California, says Clinton made the comments Tuesday during a fundraising luncheon for local Boys and Girls Clubs.
Putin contends ethnic Russians in Ukraine need to be protected. Clinton said that's what Hitler did when he contended that ethnic Germans outside Germany in places such as Czechoslovakia and Romania were not being treated right and needed to be protected.
The newspaper quoted Clinton as saying that Putin is a man "who believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness."
Clinton continues her California tour today with an address at the University of California, Los Angeles.