There’s a fair amount of precedent for presidential candidates traveling abroad ahead of the election. In July 2008, for example, then-Sen. Barack Obama wowed international audiences with a historic visit to Berlin. Almost exactly four years later, in July 2012, Mitt Romney took an overseas trip of his own. (It really didn’t go well for the Republican.)
So when Donald Trump’s campaign said the presumptive GOP nominee would travel to Scotland ahead of the Republican convention, it was only natural to assume Trump was headed abroad to bolster his foreign policy credentials.
But as the New York Times reported, the truth is a little more complicated.
His campaign is desperately short of cash. He has struggled to hire staff. Influential Republicans are demanding that he demonstrate he can run a serious general election campaign.But, for reasons that emphasize just how unusual a candidate he is, Donald J. Trump is leaving the campaign trail on Thursday to travel to Scotland to promote a golf course his company purchased on the country’s southwestern coast.
This may sound like some sort of joke, but it’s quite real. This isn’t a situation in which an American presidential hopeful has scheduled meetings with foreign officials, and he’s checking in on his business interests while he’s there; it’s largely the opposite. Trump’s Scottish sojourn appears to have practically nothing to do with the office he’s seeking.
The Times report added that Trump’s business interests “still drive his behavior, and his schedule. He has planned two days in Scotland, with no meetings with government or political leaders scheduled.” The Republican’s itinerary “reads like a public relations junket crossed with a golf vacation,” complete with “a ceremonial ribbon cutting.”
Scott W. Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, added, “Everyone knows this is the wrong thing for the nominee to be doing now, and it is amazing this can’t be stopped.”
Wait, it’s even more amazing than that.
If the Scottish golf course were a wildly successful venture, Trump could at least point to this as evidence of his prowess as an international businessman.
Indeed, Trump has made exactly such an effort. In a Scottish newspaper, he recently wrote an op-ed with a headline that read, “How Scotland will help me become president.” In the piece, the Republican candidate wrote, “When I first arrived on the scene in Aberdeen, the people of Scotland were testing me to see just how serious I was – just like the citizens in the United States have done about my race for the White House…. I had to win them over – I had to convince them that I meant business and that I had their best interests in mind. Well, Scotland has already been won – and so will the United States.”
The problem, as the Washington Post reported yesterday, is that the entire venture has been a bit of a disaster.
[T]o many people in Scotland, his course here has been a failure. Over the past decade, Trump has battled with homeowners, elbowed his way through the planning process, shattered relationships with elected leaders and sued the Scottish government. On top of that, he has yet to fulfill the lofty promises he made.Trump has also reported to Scottish authorities that he lost millions of dollars on the project – even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.
In early May, Trump, in an entirely serious way, pointed to his role in the Miss Universe beauty pageant as evidence of his international experience. Unfortunately for the GOP candidate, his Scottish golf course is his other piece of evidence, and it’s a failure.