In his 14 months as president, Trump hasn’t yet followed his predecessors’ habit of dropping by local watering holes (even though he’s made no secret of his love for junk food) or public service events either at home or on the road. He hasn’t gone to a baseball game or stopped at a soup kitchen. On Saturday, he ventured out of the White House to attend the annual Gridiron Dinner, taking a baby step into Washington’s elite social scene. But his appearance at the white-tie event did little to bring him closer to ordinary Americans.
Outside Washington, Trump follows a careful routine of visiting factories or local law enforcement headquarters. When he stopped recently in Parkland, Florida, on his way to Mar-a-Lago, he took a smiling photo with a girl who had been shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a sharp contrast to images of Obama sitting in a small room with his head in his hands grieving with the parents of first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
Trump promised the night of his victory to govern on behalf of “the forgotten men and women of our country.” Yet as president, he rarely comes into contact with regular people except in the structured setting of the White House or during tightly orchestrated events set up by staff, including a West Wing listening session last month with Stoneman Douglas families that featured some attendees who were critical of his proposals. His announcement last week of new tariffs, the timing of which surprised even some senior staffers, came at a table packed with industry executives rather than at a Rust Belt steel mill.