Trump handshake showdown: Macron just won’t let go
Brussels— Donald Trump is known for employing knuckle-crushing, testosterone-driven, arm-shuddering handshakes. But he met his match Thursday in Emmanuel Macron.
It took the French president just six seconds to out-Trump Trump in a handshake that showed the world — and a man three decades his senior — that there’s a new leader on the world stage.
Trump’s trick is to go in strong and then hold on just slightly too long, often pulling the other man toward him. Meeting Macron for the first time before a NATO summit in Brussels, Trump went in firm as usual. But this time, it was Trump — not Macron — who tried to back out first. Macron simply wouldn’t let go as Trump tried to pull back once, and then flexed his fingers straight to get out. On the second try, he was able to pull away.
The two seemed to get on well enough.Trump spoke about Macron’s “incredible campaign” and “tremendous victory.” He listened intently as Macron talked in his native language abouttheir power to “together change many things,” even though the U.S. president has never shown himself to be conversant in French.
Trump’s handshake style has been under the microscope ever since his 19-second-long handshake with a visibly bewildered Shinzo Abe of Japan. Others have since learned how to deal with it. Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, managed to neutralize the Trumpshake with a clever combination of timing, balance and control.
Trump has described himself as “a germ freak” and called handshakes “barbaric.” In his 1997 book “The Art of the Comeback,” Trump wrote he’d “often thought of taking out a series of newspaper ads encouraging the abolishment of the handshake.”
Trump’s aversion to hand-shaking seemed to lessen over the course of the U.S. presidential campaign. He’s now deep into an inaugural world tour that has forced him to exchange hand greetings with leaders from Israel to the Vatican.
Macron won France’s election this month by positioning himself as the anti-Trump, embracing globalization and open borders.