Just hours after his success in the House yesterday, which narrowly passed his American Health Care Act, President Trump was back in New York for the first time since becoming President in January. Buyoed by his victory in the nation’s capital, he was perhaps taken by surprise by the hostile reception he received from hundreds of protesters who were waiting for him. NBC News reporter Stephanie Gosk, on the scene, described the crowd as not very large but that they “got very loud.” The crowd booed the President and chanted: “New York hates you.” President Trump only managed 36.5 per cent of the vote in New York State in last year’s election, compared to 59 for Hillary Clinton, and in Manhattan where Mr Trump has his home and offices in Trump Tower, where his wife Melania and youngest son Barron still live, he achieved only 10% of the vote with Mrs Clinton getting 87%.
President Trump was back in New York to speak to the Australian Prime Minister on board a decommissioned aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, which is situated on the Hudson River, as part of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea during World War Two. The protests forced the President to bypass Trump Tower completely. Among the placards criticising the President were ones with slogans such as: “Impeach the Freak,” Shame, Shame Shame,” and “This village doesn’t want it’s idiot back.” The President earlier in the day had been celebrating at the White House his House of Representatives victory and had even postponed his visit to New York, keeping the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull waiting. The Prime Minister had flown 10,000 miles to the meeting, only to be told it would be delayed by three hours. This was not only disrespectful but risked alienating Mr Turnbull who, in January when President Trump became President, had a difficult phone conversation with Mr Trump over an Obama administration pledge to accept 1,250 refugees held by Australia in the Pacific. President Trump does not wish to honour the agreement and when he became frustrated with Mr Turnbull he hung up on the Prime Minister.
Despite this, both men – publicly at least – said the right words. The President said that they “got along great,” and “we have a fantastic relationship.” He added, rather unconvincingly, “I love Australia, I always have.” Of the refugee agreement he said that it had been “worked out for a long time” and said reporters exaggerated the phone call, saying: “We had a great call […] I mean, we’re not babies. Young at heart.” As for the Prime Minister, he said: “We can put the refugee deal behind you and move on.”
The USS Intrepid is now a museum. In 2009, Mr Trump used it in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice – landing on its deck in a helicopter. It was also while on board the Intrepid that Mr Trump made his famous remark during the election campaign that President Putin of Russia was a better leader than President Obama. Yesterday’s event, as today’s Guardian newspaper explained, was to:
“commemorate the Battle of the Coral Sea, the engagement in May 1942 in which the US and Australian navies worked together to turn back a Japanese advance, a recognized turning point in the war. The dinner was attended by seven veterans of the battle, three Americans and four Australians all in their 90s.”
Donald Trump has had a difficult relationship with the people of New York and remains deeply unpopular there. Protesters yesterday marched towards the Intrepid, banging pots and pans and chanting pro-refugee chants such as “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here.” Many were waving banners and signs and passing vehicles sounded their horns in support of the protest to welcome the President to his home state. The protests continued into the night with Greenpeace USA jetting up and down the Hudson in inflatable boats displaying banners saying “Resist!” The previous night, according to the Guardian, a neon slogan was projected against the dock at which the Intrepid is moored saying: “The resistance will not stop.” Many in New York are embarrassed by their President, an idea summed up a Queens’ resident Steve McCasland who was in the protest. He told reporters that: “He is an embarrassment to this city. We’re a city of compassionate people and he’s certainly not one of them.”
After his meeting with Mr Turnbull, the President left the city immediately, heading for his country home in Bedminster in New Jersey. Unsurprisingly, he is expected to spend the weekend playing golf at the Trump National Golf Course.