President Barack Obama is trying but failing to reassure foreign leaders convinced that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. They’re in full-boil panic.
According to more than two dozen U.S. and foreign-government officials, Trump has become the starting point for what feels like every government-to-government interaction. In meetings, private dinners and phone calls, world leaders are urgently seeking explanations from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Trade Representative Michael Froman on down. American ambassadors are asking for guidance from Washington about what they’re supposed to say.
“They’re scared and they’re trying to understand how real this is,” said one American official in touch with foreign leaders. “They all ask. They follow our politics with excruciating detail. They ask: ‘What is this Trump phenomenon? Can he really win? What would it mean for U.S. policy going forward or U.S. engagement in the world?’ They’re all sort of incredulous.”
Obama hears world leaders’ fears about the Republican front-runner so often that he has developed a speech meant to ease their nerves.