President Trump's Visit To France Creates Further Distance With European Allies

Nov 11, 2018
Originally published on November 11, 2018 10:49 am
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President Trump's past week has been a wild one, ranging from a combative, post-election press conference to a trip to France in which he seemed farther than ever from the United States' European allies. Our own national political correspondent, Mara Liasson, joins us now to chronicle it all. Welcome, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So we've just been talking about what's happening in Florida. And the president has had a lot to say about it.

LIASSON: That's right. He's been saying without evidence that there was tremendous fraud and corruption in the count - presumably, he's saying against the Republican candidate. Governor Scott, Marco Rubio have all been echoing those charges, even though law enforcement in Florida haven't found any evidence of fraud. But this reminds us of what he said in 2016, where he said the vote was rigged. And he would only accept the conclusion if he won. So this has a tendency to undermine people's faith in the most basic of democratic institutions, the ballot.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right - and he's also making claims of fraud in Arizona. But we're not even talking about a recount there.

LIASSON: No, they're just counting the votes in Arizona where the Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema seems to be increasing her lead by the day. And there are also reports that the White House has encouraged Martha McSally, the Republican candidate, to make these charges. And she hasn't been. Maybe she hasn't been making the claims because she understands how Arizona works and because, in the past, she's both lost and won a very close election in Arizona. And also, there is a possibility that, if she loses the Senate race, she could be appointed to take the seat of John McCain, where former Senator Jon Kyl is serving right now. So we might end up with both Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema in as Arizona senators.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to turn to France now, where the president is. This is a trip that has not gone smoothly. Yesterday, President Trump chose not to go on a scheduled visit to a cemetery for fallen American soldiers. And for today's events, he didn't arrive with the other world leaders. And then in a speech, French President Emmanuel Macron said patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. That sounds pretty pointed.

LIASSON: It is pretty pointed. Let's just try to unpack that. The reason given for the president's skipping the ceremony honoring World War I dead yesterday and the reason he didn't arrive with the other leaders today, the White House says, were security protocols. Now, the problem is that his credibility is low because he has said so many things in the past that weren't true. So nobody believed him. And he got a huge round of criticism for not honoring the dead yesterday, for not arriving with the other leaders. As for Emmanuel Macron's speech, he sees nationalism as something that's exclusionary, us versus them. Patriotism, he said, was about values, about pride in your country's values. And he has been trying to position himself as the leader of the liberal world order since the United States and President Trump has decided that U.S. leadership of that order, that post-World War II, rules-based, liberal world order is a burden, not an advantage for U.S. national security. So this is the big debate among democracies today.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And clearly a lot of tension. We only have a few seconds left. But what are your takeaways at this point from last week and the election? What do we know?

LIASSON: Big takeaways - turnout busted all the records, surpassed even 1966. We had the biggest gender gap in history, where women voted for Democrats by - over Republicans by 20 points. It turns out that as time goes on, the Democrats have picked up more seats than they did in Watergate. We're probably looking at 35 to 40 pickups. And bottom line - we're more deeply divided ever by gender, geography, education - looks like we're having a realignment where the suburbs, especially college-educated women, are reliable Democratic voters. And white, working-class men particularly and rural voters are the base of the GOP.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: More divided than ever - NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson, thank you.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.