Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has weighed in on how he would have handled being stairway-snubbed. Unsurprisingly, his methods differ somewhat from those taken by current president Barack Obama in China on Sunday.
In case you somehow missed it, the leader of the world’s most powerful nation was mysteriously left waiting in Air Force One after his plane touched down in Hangzhou for the G20 summit, because there were no red-carpeted stairs there to greet him. Instead, Obama was forced to disembark through the belly of the plane, down a small flight of bare metal stairs.
Of course, Trump says he would never stoop so low as to use uncarpeted stairs, speaking at a roundtable discussion with labor leaders in Ohio on Monday, The Donald had this to say, via The Washington Post:
They won’t even give him stairs, proper stairs to get out of the airplane. You see that? They have pictures of other leaders who are… coming down with a beautiful red carpet. And Obama is coming down a metal staircase.
I’ve got to tell you, if that were me, I would say, “You know what, folks, I respect you a lot but close the doors, let’s get out of here.” It’s a sign of such disrespect.
Strangely enough, Trump went on to talk about the maker of the metal stairs, saying that he “guaranteed it was built in China, it wasn’t built here, okay?” Lots of things are made in China, including: Trump toilets, masks and toilet paper. But those folding metal stairs were obviously part of Air Force One.
Clinton staffers have mocked Trump for his hypothetical decision to leave and the inaccuracy of his guarantee:
Temperament Update: Trump would leave G-20 mtg b/c the staircase offended him and he was wrong abt the staircase. https://t.co/wjMCMIDmwk
— Jesse Ferguson (@JesseFFerguson) September 5, 2016
All other world leaders — even Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — were photographed disembarking from their planes onto a red-carpeted stairway. The exact details of what happened with Obama’s arrival are not known. An anonymous Chinese official told the SCMP that the American delegation had turned down the mobile red-carpeted stairway because the driver of the stairway couldn’t speak English. Some don’t buy that story and wonder why China was not more accommodating to American security concerns. Former Mexican ambassador to China Jorge Guajardo has called it a “deliberate snub” on the part of the Chinese.
Meanwhile, the nationalistic Party tabloid, the Global Times, wrote in an editorial yesterday that the whole kerfuffle was nothing more than another example of Western media unnecessarily “hyping up” an innocuous incident to create tensions between the US and China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also blamed the apparent snub on the “highly unprofessional” western media that made an issue out of a “small episode.”
“They fabricated news and added wild guesses to it without getting to the bottom of this issue,” Hua said at a regular press conference on Monday. “This would only consolidate the impression that some western media are arrogant and big-headed.”
For his part, Obama told reporters not to “overcrank the significance” of what had happened. “Part of it is we also have a much bigger footprint than a lot of other countries. We’ve got a lot of planes, a lot of helicopters, a lot of cars, a lot of guys. You know, if you’re a host country, sometimes it may feel a little bit much,” he reasoned.
Trump has regularly bemoaned that the US always “loses” to China and has attacked Obama for being “weak” on the world stage. One of his favorite talking points seems to be airport ritual and protocol, speaking on two separate incidents, Trump had this to say in April:
“The truth is they [other countries] don’t respect us. When President Obama landed in Cuba on Air Force One, no leader was there, nobody, to greet him. Perhaps an incident without precedent in the long and prestigious history of Air Force One. Then, amazingly, the same thing happened in Saudi Arabia. It’s called no respect.”
Of course, there is a long and prestigious history of heads of state not being there on the tarmac to greet American presidents. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave Trump’s claim four Pinocchios.
Rather than simply turn the plane around and fly home, Obama stayed on in Hangzhou for two days, meeting privately with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a three-hour discussion, before departing yesterday night in style:
I can confirm proper tarmac stairwell provided for obama's departure from china! pic.twitter.com/Iflkmuu3gn
— William Wan (@thewanreport) September 5, 2016
No word yet on what Trump hypothetically would have done if another world leader called him a “son of a whore.”