Even Half a World Away, Trump Weighs In on Debates

OSAKA, Japan — To the surprise of exactly no one, President Trump sneaked a look at the Democratic debate in between meetings with world leaders. And to the surprise of exactly no one, he professed not to be impressed.

In Japan for an international summit meeting, Mr. Trump could hardly resist taking a peek at a television set in between sessions on Friday with India’s prime minister and Germany’s chancellor to catch the contest between 10 of the Democratic candidates seeking the nomination to challenge him next year.

It turns out his Twitter account works in Japan, too, because he then quickly typed out his reaction to what he saw — or an aide did on his behalf. “All Democrats just raised their hands for giving millions of illegal aliens unlimited healthcare,” the tweet read. “How about taking care of American Citizens first!? That’s the end of that race!”

Mr. Trump then sat down with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and voiced the same criticism of the Democrats once reporters were invited in the room. “I saw that health care, and maximum health care, was given to 100 percent of the illegal immigrants coming into our country by the Democrats,” he declared. “And unfortunately, they didn’t discuss what they’re giving to American citizens. That’s not a good thing.”

Turning to Ms. Merkel, he explained. “You know they have a debate going on,” he said. “They had the first debate last night. Perhaps you saw it. It wasn’t very exciting, I can tell you that. And they have another one going on today. They definitely have plenty of candidates, that’s about it. So I look forward to spending time with you rather than watching the debate.”

Ms. Merkel remained stone-faced through this, studiously avoiding even eye contact with the president and giving no sign of whether she had been paying attention to the debates this week in Miami.

The notion that Mr. Trump might prefer to spend time with her than watching, however, seemed worth a fact-check. While he insisted that she was a “great friend,” Mr. Trump is known to like Ms. Merkel about as much as he likes Democrats.

But his mind was at times clearly on the contest back home. Later in the day, during a meeting with Brazil’s leader, he pivoted from a discussion of Venezuela to the debates again, saying the candidates wanted to replicate Venezuelan socialism. “There’s a rumor that the Democrats are going to change the name of the party from the Democrat Party to the Socialist Party,” he said.

The first debate took place while he was traveling on Air Force One, and he tweeted his reaction to that one, too, in terse fashion. “BORING!” he wrote, perhaps because, unlike in the second debate, his name did not come up all that much.

He did take the time to jab the debate hosts for the microphone malfunction during that debate. “@NBCNews and @MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate,” he wrote Wednesday night. “Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!”

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