SEOUL, South Korea — While President Donald Trump contends with the looming threat from North Korea, thorny trade disputes and the delicate dance of international diplomacy, he has had another thing on his mind: last year’s Election Day.
Through the first two legs of his five-country swing through Asia, Trump has been mentioning his upset victory in the 2016 presidential election, one year ago Wednesday.
White House officials haven’t said how Trump intends to mark the occasion. He told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Asia: “I hope we’ll all celebrate together.” He’ll be delivering a speech on North Korea’s nuclear program at the South Korean National Assembly and visiting Beijing’s Forbidden City.
The anniversary already has figured prominently in the president’s trip. As he sat down Tuesday for a formal meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and top officials, Trump opened his remarks by pointing to the date.
“It was great victory, and a victory that made a lot of people very happy,” Trump said.
It was the same in Japan, where Trump bragged about the stock market and unemployment rate to an audience of U.S. and Japanese business leaders.
The “numbers are phenomenal since November 8th, Election Day,” he said, talking about how he’d “reduced regulations terrifically, frankly, if I do say so myself, but at a level that nobody else has ever done.”
The references aren’t novel. Trump still seems consumed by the 2016 campaign, relitigating its controversies and dwelling on his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
He has repeatedly called on the Justice Department to investigate Clinton, and he launched a voter fraud commission under the false premise that massive voter fraud cost him the popular vote.
Other countries seem to have taken notice, raising the anniversary as a way to earn the favor of Trump, who is known to be susceptible to flattery.
“I would like to congratulate you in advance,” Moon told Trump as they sat down for talks on North Korea and trade.
In less than one year, Moon said, “you are already making great progress on making America great again, as you have promised on the campaign trail.”
The theme continued that night at a state dinner, which Moon said had been organized to celebrate the occasion.
“In Korea, we have a custom of holding a special celebration of one’s first birthday. So after pondering about how to best celebrate the first anniversary of President Trump’s victory, I decided to invite the president to Korea as a state guest and hold a banquet,” he said. “President Trump’s election victory one year ago is already making America great again.”