President Donald Trump says he's got this friend, Jim, who used to love Paris but doesn't love it anymore. However, according to the Associated Press, there's some questions as to whether Trump's friend "Jim" is imaginary. As the president prepares to make his first trip to Paris since winning the election, the curiosity about Jim is palpable.
President Trump's anecdotal mentions of Jim occurred throughout his time on the campaign trail. Most notably, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland back in February, when Trump explained his pal's Parisian plight:
[Jim] loves the City of Lights, he loves Paris. For years, every year during the summer, he would go to Paris. It was automatic, with his wife and his family.
But when Trump asked Jim how Paris was doing, he claimed his friend replied, "I don't go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris."
After those comments, Trump and Jim both were invited (via Twitter) to visit the city again by Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who encouraged the two pals to "celebrate the dynamism and the spirit of openness of #Paris."
However, Jim remains elusive. As the AP noted, there's no last name for Jim and the White House hasn't responded to any requests for comments about him. Back in March, The New Yorker rounded up a couple of Jims connected to Trump — but none of them seem to be the right Jim. Bustle reached out as well, but hasn't received an answer.
From the way Trump tells it, Jim's love for Paris began its decline following terrorist attacks in the city. Apparently, France's policies on security, immigration, and terrorism differ from his own.
In context, Trump's immigration policies promote what he calls "extreme vetting" to prevent terrorism. However, they are criticized by advocates who believe such measures will hurt the Muslim community. Meanwhile many European nations, including the French (particularly with the election of Macron) have taken a different approach and have been critical of discrimination against French Muslims.
So, theoretically, the Jim anecdotes (whether he's real or not) were employed to bolster the narrative of France as less safe to draw support for Trump's own immigration policies, which were a cornerstone of his campaign.
While Trump very well could have a friend named Jim who fell out of love with the City of Light (poetic and tragic as it sounds), it could also be a case of the president resting on a (well-documented) favorite rhetorical device of relaying his own opinions and spin by attributing them to others — frequently citing "many people" or a publicist named John who sounds just like him.
But until Jim is officially identified (and #confirmed as real), the mystery is bound to continue to haunt us.