WASHINGTON — With President Donald Trump, a good enemy deserves a good nickname.
In his debut appearance before the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday, Trump embraced his latest label — calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man.”
An apparent reference to the Elton John song, which Trump sometimes played at campaign rallies, “Rocket Man” is the latest Trump-nickname to enter his colorful lexicon. During the 2016 race, he battled with Sen. Marco Rubio (“Little Marco”), Sen. Ted Cruz (“Lyin’ Ted”) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“Crooked Hillary”).
“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself,” said Trump as he addressed the General Assembly. He previously used “Rocket Man” on Twitter Sunday.
Trump’s mockery of the dictator quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, where users shared memes of Kim sitting at a piano wearing the oversized sunglasses that were part of John’s signature look in the 1970s. Others shared images of Kim riding a missile like a horse. One Twitter user noted that The Economist magazine used the term to describe Kim’s father on a 2006 cover.
Representatives for John did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The song “Rocket Man” was on Elton John’s 1972 album “Honky Chateau.” Trump enjoyed playing the song at his rallies, as well as another Elton John hit “Tiny Dancer.”
But John’s team made clear that he had not given permission to Trump to use the music. And in an interview with The Guardian in February 2016, John said: “I don’t really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. I’m British.”
John added: “I’ve met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me, it’s nothing personal, his political views are his own, mine are very different, I’m not a Republican in a million years.”
After his election last year, a member of Trump’s transition team said John would perform at the inauguration. But the musician’s team quickly shot down the report.
Associated Press writer Patrick Mairs contributed from Philadelphia.