As Donald Trump prepares to embark on the first foreign trip of his presidency, foreign officials are reportedly grappling with how to handle a man who eats his steak with a side of ketchup and is obsessed with winning. According to reports from the Associated Press and The New York Times, foreign leaders have "rules" to deal with Trump's ego and short attention span that sound embarrassingly similar to how one might deal with a petulant child. Foreign officials are reportedly being advised to use visual aides, allow Trump plenty of downtime, and assume that he is unfamiliar with their country's culture and history.
Because Trump, as the Associated Press puts it, "simply doesn't have an affinity for much [of anything] international," White House aides and foreign officials are reportedly making an extra effort to keep the president appeased during his international debut. In Saudi Arabia, the first stop on the president's trip, caterers are reportedly preparing to offer Trump steak and ketchup alongside more traditional dishes, the news outlet reported. The AP also claimed White House aides made sure to schedule "daily downtime" on Trump's whirlwind international tour.
But it isn't just a matter of helping keep President Trump, a reported homebody, comfortable while he travels abroad. According to the Times, foreign officials have developed a set of "rules" for how to best handle their interactions with Trump:
Keep it short — no 30-minute monologue for a 30-second attention span. Do not assume he knows the history of the country or its major points of contention. Compliment him on his Electoral College victory. Contrast him favorably with President Barack Obama. Do not get hung up on whatever was said during the campaign. Stay in regular touch. Do not go in with a shopping list but bring some sort of deal he can call a victory.
Former British Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott told the Times he'd advise anyone prepping to meet with Trump to keep in mind three points.
One, bear in mind this is still a guy who focuses on wins. He likes to have wins for America and wins for himself from bilateral meetings. Secondly, he is a deal maker, a pragmatist. Third, this is a guy with a limited attention span. He absolutely won't want to listen to visitors droning on for a half-hour — or longer if they need an interpreter.
Trump's attention span is reportedly also a concern for NATO officials, who have reportedly told heads of state attending the NATO gathering in Brussels to limit their talking points "to two to four minutes" during discussions so as to not bore the U.S. president.
Trump has a packed schedule for his first trip abroad as president. He will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, and then travel to Israel, the Vatican, Brussels, and Sicily over the course of his nine-day trip.