Donald Trump, a former TV star, often sees those around him as ‘central casting’ – USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Donald Trump is president of the United States, but the former reality TV star still frequently speaks of the people in his political orbit through the lens of show business.
On Monday, in telling of a 2017 encounter with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump described Xi’s aides as straight out of “central casting.”
And in case anybody missed the point, the showman applied a few hand gestures for special effect: Pulling his hands to his face as he mentioned the aides’ glasses, Trump made two circles with his fingers and then strategically placed them around his eyes.
Showcasing his flair for drama, Trump regaled the nation’s governors with his tale of how he persuaded the Chinese president in 2017 to release three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in Hangzhou, China.
Trump, who happened to be in Beijing at the time, said he broached the subject with Xi during a state dinner.
“I said, ‘Mr. President could you do me a favor? Could you let the three basketball players out?'” Trump said in remarks from the White House’s State Dining Room.
Xi called over to aides, Trump said, noting the Chinese president has “got people standing behind him. Everyone is central casting – central casting. Glasses. Pad. Boom.”
Within two minutes, according to Trump, Xi returned and Trump continued his plea on the athletes’ behalf.
“I said it would be a great thing if you could possibly let them out,” Trump said. “He goes, ‘So be it. They’re out.'”
Call it diplomacy, showbiz style.
It’s not the first time Trump has used the phrase “central casting” to describe people around him.
Trump repeatedly described Justice Brett Kavanaugh, then his nominee for the Supreme Court, as being from “central casting” as a way to express his surprise that Democrats objected to the judge following allegations of sexual assault. Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed.
“I’m going to nominate you for the United States Supreme Court,” Trump said during a rally last November in Tennessee, recalling a conversation he had with Kavanaugh.
“I said this is going to – you are so central casting. Great marks, great schools, the best everything, the best of everything.”
Quite frequently, the president uses the phrase as a term of endearment.
“Is he central casting or what?” Trump asked during a Mississippi rally in October, calling Gov. Phil Bryant to the stage. “He’s central casting.”
The former reality television star used the phrase earlier on in his presidency at the same annual governors meeting – this time referring to Vice President Mike Pence.
“And thank you to Vice President Pence. He has been so wonderful to work with. He’s a real talent, a real guy,” Trump said. “And he is central casting, do we agree? Central casting. He’s been great.”
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He even used the phrase on the first day of his presidency, referencing to his Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis.
“This is central casting,” Trump said. “If I was doing a movie, I pick you, General.”
As for the basketball players, all three – LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Rile – were freed and allowed to return to the United States, where they later thanked Trump for helping secure their release.
But Trump has suggested he doesn’t believe he has gotten enough credit for bringing them home.
Trump noted that Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, had minimized his involvement in securing the players’ release.
“We came back and the one father said, ‘Well, we don’t know that Trump helped. I sent a consultant,'” Trump said.
“That consultant would have gotten nowhere.”.
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