Eric Trump said on Tuesday that President Trump’s frequent and secretive visits to the golf course -- 16 rounds in total since his inauguration -- enable him to bring some familiarity to his political relationships.
In an interview with Irish newspaper The Independent, Eric Trump likened his father’s golf excursions and weekend trips to the “Winter White House” at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, to former President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.
“You can sit with somebody in a golf cart where there might be cultural differences and language barriers and have a good time and build a friendship in a way that you could never do sitting across an office table from someone -- and I think being able to go to Mar-a-Lago [Trump’s Florida estate], it is my father’s Crawford, Texas,” Eric Trump said.
“Crawford was George W. Bush’s ranch and Bush brought foreign leaders from all over the world [there]. He would go down to the ranch and they would drive a truck around and they would have fun and they would eat and that was his way of bonding,” he elaborated. Unlike Crawford, however, Mar-a-Lago is a luxury club that charges new members a $200,000 initiation fee.
According to Eric Trump, the president, who criticized former President Obama for playing too much golf during his time in office, sees Mar-a-Lago as a “very effective tool” for White House business. According to The Golf Channel, Obama played 333 rounds in his two terms.
“Mar-a-Lago is an amazing estate that has been a very effective tool for [my father] to go down and get to know somebody while not sitting - no different to you wanting to sit next to me on this couch today -- not sitting across a wooden partition, which instantly makes a relationship more strenuous,” he said.
He continued, “If he can befriend people and find common respect, common ground and friendship -- if you can have a good time together -- then you are always going to see somebody in a very different light than you would with this kind of a relationship [he points to the wooden table] or a relationship over the phone, and that’s an immensely powerful tool.”
Out of the president’s 16 rounds, according to CBS News’ Mark Knoller, the White House has only disclosed two of them: One with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and another with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
According to the Independent, Eric Trump also complained about the meanness of the press and cited as an example the president’s outing with Irish golf champion Rory McIlroy in February, which generated criticism from PGA fans and politicos alike.
“Rory is a buddy of ours,” he said, adding, “And, hey, if you played with Hillary [Clinton] and she had won then he would have gotten backlash for that as well. That’s the nature of politics. It is what it is. But do you know what the great thing is? He [my father] is not a politician so it doesn’t matter -- they can still go out and have a fun time together.”