Trump plays golf ahead of Putin summit

President Donald Trump plays golf in Scotland before traveling to Helsinki, Finland, for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. CNN's Phil Black reports.

Posted: Jul 16, 2018 1:43 PM
Updated: Jul 16, 2018 1:58 PM

Forget "Make America Great Again." What President Donald Trump truly cares about is "MTGA" -- "Make Trump Great Again," and we saw another example of this objective over the weekend. Trump, playing the role of a pitchman, used his trip to Scotland as an infomercial to help his financially ailing Trump Turnberry golf course, which has lost millions since Trump bought it in 2014.

For example, at a press conference held at the close of the NATO summit a few days ago, a reporter asked Trump, "What will be your message on Brexit?" Trump remarkably found a way to promote his golf course in his response: "I have no message ... I own a lot of property there. I have Turnberry in Scotland, which is a magical place -- one of my favorite places."

And in case people missed that plug, Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to promote his golf course again: "I have arrived in Scotland and will be at Trump Turnberry for two days of meetings, calls and hopefully, some golf." He then added, "This place is incredible!"

But wait, there's more to this Trump infomercial. The President then played a round of golf at his Scottish country club on Saturday, ensuring even more media coverage of his "incredible" property.

Although you have to wonder if Trump's personal endorsement is actually good for business. Keep in mind that one of Scotland's main newspapers, The Scotsman, slammed Trump upon his arrival as a "a racist, a serial liar, and either a sex abuser or someone who falsely brags about being one in the apparent belief that this will impress other men in a metaphorical 'locker room.'"

Say what you will about Trump -- and people have -- but he has been consistent in one area: Looking out for number one. And by number one, I don't mean the United States of America. Rather, I mean his bottom line.

Before Trump was sworn in as President, his decision to promote his properties was his choice. But Trump has continued to market his businesses as President, which means that we are essentially paying for his infomercials, since our tax dollars are being used to pay for his trips to visit his properties and the costs associated with the press conferences where Trump touts his businesses.

Imagine if President Barack Obama had owned a chain of hotels and had used his presidency to continually promote those interests. The Benghazi hearings would've paled in comparison, as the GOP-controlled House -- together with right wing media outlets like Fox News -- would've taken Obama to task. But when it comes to Trump doing that, those same politicians and media commentators are silent.

Of course, Trump's infomercial for his Turnberry golf course is far from the only time he has used taxpayer-funded trips and official presidential press conferences to publicize his properties. In fact, according to CNN, Trump's Scotland visit was the 167th day of his presidency that he spent at one of his properties.

One of the most conspicuous examples of his self-promotion came last August after the white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, that killed Heather Heyer and left several injured. At Trump's press conference a few days later, the President actually inserted a plug for his winery in the area, telling the throngs of reporters: "I know a lot about Charlottesville. ... I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States -- it's in Charlottesville."

When Trump traveled to South Korea last year to address the nation's legislature, he again used the massive media coverage to boost his business. This time Trump told the Korean legislators, "Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth." He then added a plug: "And you know what I'm going to say -- the women's US Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey."

Trump even roped in his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, to join the cast of his infomercial last November after he, while on a taxpayer-funded trip to Asia, stopped off to visit the Trump International Hotel Waikiki in Hawaii. When reporters asked Sanders why Trump took time on this official trip to visit his hotel, she delivered a plug right on cue, declaring, "It has been a tremendously successful project, and he wanted to say hello and thank you to the employees for all their hard work."

Maybe Trump or Sanders will tell the press, "If you call right now, you can save 20% off your next stay at a Trump hotel if you use the promo code 'MAGA.'" Adding, "Operators are standing by now!"

While we don't know what Trump or Sanders may promote next, we do know that Trump will not change. He has been promoting number one his entire life. But if Trump wants to hawk his products like we see with informercials for "The Thighmaster" or "George Foreman Grill," Trump, not the American taxpayers, should be the ones paying for it.

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