It has been a tumultuous week for the Trump Administration — especially as it relates to foreign policy.
President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and the news conference that accompanied it have drawn widespread condemnation from Democrats and Republicans alike.
This follows other widely-criticized comments about our NATO allies.
Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with a uniquely qualified panel of experts on crisis communications and politics here in Southeast Michigan about Trump’s week in foreign policy blunders.
Bill Nowling is with Lambert Edwards, a political public relations firm in Michigan. Ron Fournier is a former journalist who covered the Clinton and Bush (43) administrations, served as publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business, and is now the president of Truscott Rossman, another Michigan-based PR firm. And Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst with the Reason Foundation and a columnist with The Week.
Fournier was the White House press pool reporter who asked then-President George W. Bush what he thought of meeting Putin for the first time. He gave the now famous answer that he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul.
“I didn’t hear that (answer),” says Fournier. “And the reason I didn’t hear it was because I couldn’t take my eyes off of Putin…he is glaring at me…with the coldest, darkest eyes I’d ever seen. A chill went down my spine and I thought to myself, ‘For how many men that’s the last thing they saw on this, God’s Earth?’ I was scared to death.”
President Bush’s answer to that question sounds strikingly similar to Trump’s comments this week. But, Fournier says the context surrounding those answers is very different.
“It’s a huge difference,” he says. “There is a credible investigation into the fact that Russia tried to undermine our election…George Bush would not be handling himself the way Donald Trump is. No president we’ve ever had would be handling himself (that way).”
Nowling says Trump invited the widespread backlash he received.
“So many of these PR and life problems can be solved by just watching the Godfather, because you don’t side against the family,” says Nowling. “He went on worldwide television and sided against the family.”
Dalmia says the problem with Trump’s words were that “he seemed completely subservient to Putin…this wasn’t America First. This seemed like Trump First.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.