Donald Trump will use his trip to Europe, after the primaries, to gloss over an expected electoral setback but he shouldn't expect too warm a welcome.
President Trump’s visit to Ireland in November may have come unexpectedly, but there is perfect sense behind the trip.
Trump rarely misses an opportunity to make an impact with his core voters as he builds up steam for a second run in 2020.
The likelihood is that he will be arriving in Ireland in the aftermath of the midterm election in which his own party is expecting to take a pummeling from the electorate.
Trump will use the European trip to honor the heroes of World War I and to focus attention elsewhere rather than on what looks likely to be a “whupping,” as George W. Bush once characterized a giant electoral setback.
Then there is the 2016 election to ponder, where 107,000 votes in three states, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota, would have changed the election and given Hillary Clinton the presidency with 274 electoral votes.
Throw in Ohio and you have the 2020 roadmap for Trump, who will be ignoring the popular vote again and focused like a laser on those key battleground states.
It so happens that the ethnic Catholic blue collar vote is critical in all the Midwestern states, and Trump will be speaking to the Irish Catholic core vote when he visits the Emerald Isle.
Such trips are always useful as campaign fodder, especially as the election looms and his outreach to Ireland will appear in an advertisement or two.
The Trump reasoning then makes perfect sense, as does the fact that his extensive Irish network in his administration will approve of the two-day visit to Dublin and Doonbeg in Clare, where he owns a golf resort.
Vice President Mike Pence has long worn his Irish identity on his sleeve, and in concert with chief of staff General John Kelly and Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, the main go-to guy on Ireland, they form a strong Irish cohort who have the president’s ear.
Then there is the matter of the Doonbeg resort. Trump likes nothing more than to boast about the great deals he has done and Doonbeg, which was in dire difficulty when he bought it, is one deal he loves.
Trump ha has shown he is infinitely more at home in his own properties than on the road in strange hotels.
In addition, thankful locals in the Clare village where Trump has given work to 300 locals give him a small but vociferous group of supporters.
There will also be the issue of announcing a U.S. ambassador to Ireland, a position still unfilled nearly two years after President Obama left. The Irish visit gives Trump an opportunity to make some news if he announces his choice.
As for the demonstrators, it’s possibly a case of the more the merrier for a man fixated on being demonized and wronged.
The pictures of left-wing groups gathering in their tens of thousands to protest Trump will only fuel up his supporters back home who will dismiss them as commie agitators.
There is also a meeting on tap with the telegenic Taoiseach Leo Varadkar -- tall, striking and handsome and Casting Central’s idea of what a leader should look like.
Trump loves the image more than the reality. He made it plain that his first pick for the Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, was chosen as much for looking like a judge as actually being one.
Likewise, Trump was said to hold back on appointing John Bolton to a major position because he hated his mustache. Appearing with Varadkar will be a bonus for the vanity obsessed Trump.
Every president since Ronald Reagan has made a trip to Ireland. The country has been on a must-visit list. Bill Clinton and Obama’s visits were memorable for different reasons.
One can only contrast the massive numbers in the hundreds of thousands that Obama and Clinton drew on the Irish visit. The contrast with Trump’s reception will be unmistakable. No friendly crowds are likely.