President Donald Trump’s attempt to pay tribute to a steelworker during a White House event Thursday went spectacularly wrong, in cringe-worthy fashion. Trump was hosting workers from the steel and aluminum industries, during which he signed new tariffs on imports on the two industries.
The president’s proposals have been much criticized, even from members of his own party, but he was receiving plenty of gratitude from the president of a local steelworkers union during Thursday’s event.
“I thank you for the opportunity for what you are doing,” Scott Sauritch said to the president during his speech at the podium.
Trump moved in to shake the worker’s hand, asking, “Your father’s Herman?” The president then added, “Your father, Herman, he’s looking down, and he’s very proud of you right now.”
But it appeared Trump had been provided with faulty background information on the union leader, who responded by informing the president, “Oh, he’s still alive.”
Trump, to laughter throughout the room, tried to recover the situation, telling the worker that “then he’s even more proud of you.”
But the damage, at least on social media, had already been done.
Much more serious than his snafu Thursday is the widespread criticism from both at home and abroad Trump has received on his plans to place a tariff of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports.
Trump has posited the move as a way to help preserve American jobs, but others see it as having a very different impact. Gary Cohn announced this week that he will be departing as Trump’s top economic adviser, reportedly in part as a result of the tariffs plan.
Immediately following Trump putting his signature on the tariffs, which exempted Canada and Mexico, leading Republicans voiced their opposition.
“I disagree with this action and fear its unintended consequences,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. “I am pleased that the president has listened to those who share my concerns and included an exemption for some American allies, but it should go further.”