A 30-second Trump campaign ad screened during the World Series at Nationals Park this year told viewers that the president was “no Mr. Nice Guy,” and a lashing by Trump’s acid tongue is par for the course for those who run up against him. For Democrats, a Trump broadside can prove a moneymaker, as candidates leverage his barbs in fundraising campaigns.
But the president is not all fire. Here are some of Trump’s softer, sweeter moments.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada graced the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek’s May 1, 2017, issue with headline “The Anti-Trump,” the president took it in stride. Trump is alleged to have ripped the cover from a copy of the magazine and scrawled, “Looking good! Hope it’s not true!” before an aide sent it to the Canadians.
President Barack Obama
The president was once Obama’s booster. “What he has done is amazing,” Trump wrote in his 2009 book, Think Like A Champion, “the fact that he accomplished what he has — in one year and against great odds — is truly phenomenal. .. and proved that determination combined with opportunity and intelligence can make things happen — and in an exceptional way.” Trump also praised Obama’s economic vision for the country, telling readers that “he has also surrounded himself with very competent people, and that’s the mark of a strong leader. I have confidence he will do his best, and we have someone who is serious about resolving the problems we have and will be facing in the future.”
“I really like him,” President-elect Trump said of Obama in an appearance on NBC’s Today show on Dec. 7, 2016. “We have really good chemistry together. We talk. He loves the country.” Trump added that while he had never met or spoken to him before winning the presidency, “I really, I do like him. I love getting his ideas.” He later called the the note Obama wrote him before leaving office a “beautiful letter.”
The transition period gave the two leaders the chance to get to know one another, as when four days after winning the election, they appeared before the media together at the White House. “The meeting lasted for almost an hour and half, and, as far as I’m concerned, could have gone on for a lot longer,” Trump said, praising Obama for “some of the really great things that have been achieved.” As the meeting ended amid a scrum of shouted questions, Trump said, “very good man, very good man.”
Sen. John McCain
Speaking with Larry King in 2009, King asked Trump, “Do you have any regrets about endorsing McCain?” Trump said he didn’t. “I’ve known John for a long time,” he said. “And I’ve never met our current president. And I look forward to doing it. But I’ve known John, really, for a long time. He’s a good man. He’s a quality man. So, certainly I have no regrets about that.”
On Oct. 9, 2016, as the second presidential debate came to a close, the moderators asked Trump and Clinton to name something that they respected about each other. “I will say this about Hillary,” Trump said, “she doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. … She’s a fighter.”
Trump shared a gentle moment with a terminally ill boy during the signing of the Right to Try Act last year. Indiana native McLinn, 9 years old and battling muscular dystrophy, became the face of the Right to Try campaign when then-Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law. The legislation gives patients the “right to try,” and doctors to administer, experimental drugs.
Trump gave the boy a hug during the ceremony and kissed him on the forehead. “If I looked like that I would have been president 10 years earlier,” Trump said. “If I had that face — if I had that head of hair I would have been president so long ago. That’s great.”
The bill previously failed to pass the House amid Democrats’ concerns over threats to patients safety.
French President Emmanuel Macron
At a NATO meeting in December, Trump gently chided his French counterpart as Macron sidestepped a question. “This is why he’s a great politician,” Trump said, after a U.S. journalist inquired about Islamic State fighters captured in the Middle East, and Trump passed the question to Macron. Trump added, “Because that is one of the greatest nonanswers I’ve ever heard, and that’s OK.”
Ahead of Macron’s first official state visit under Trump on April 24, 2018, Macron called attention to their bond. “We have a very special relationship because both of us are probably the maverick of the systems on both sides,” Macron said in an April 2018 Fox News interview with host Chris Wallace. “We are not part of the classical political system.”
At the meeting, Trump echoed Macron. “We have a very special relationship,” Trump told reporters. “In fact, I’ll get that little piece of dandruff off,” he said at the time. “We have to make him perfect — he is perfect.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May
When then-British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation in May, Trump told reporters, “I feel badly for Theresa. I like her very much. She’s a good woman. She worked very hard. She’s very strong. She decided to do something that some people were surprised at, some people weren’t. It’s for the good of her country. But I like her very much. In fact, I’ll be seeing her in two weeks.”
Trump’s comments were not altogether different from his remarks one year earlier, when Trump said of May, “I have a lot of respect for the prime minister. … I think she’s doing a terrific job, by the way. This incredible woman right here is doing a fantastic job, a great job. I’ve actually gotten to know her better than ever and I think she’s a terrific woman. I think she’s doing a terrific job.” Trump said, grading their relationship as “the highest level of special, especially after these two days.” He invoked the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom, popularized by Winston Churchill’s 1946 address in Fulton, Missouri. “I can tell you there’s a lot of people in her wake,” Trump said. “She’s a very smart, very tough, very capable person. I can tell you I’d much rather have her as my friend than my enemy … She’s a total professional.”
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