Then he got to golf. “Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth,” he said, drawing applause. Waiting a beat, he smiled and added: “And you know what I’m going to say — the women’s U.S. Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.”
The president continued to note that Park Sung-hyun, a South Korean, won the tournament and seven more of her compatriots finished in the top 10.
“Congratulations. Now, that’s something. That is really something,” Trump said, enjoying more applause.
To Trump’s critics, including Democrats and some journalists, the plug was more evidence that the former New York business mogul is determined to use the office of the presidency to promote his personal brand.
Critics have suggested that such behavior represents a misuse of power and opens the president up to charges of inappropriate influence. Many foreign government delegations, for example, have stayed at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Trump has spent 95 out of the 277 days of his presidency at a Trump-branded property, according to the New York Times.
Reporters in the room for Trump’s speech said his South Korean audience greeted the president’s plug with enthusiasm, perhaps happy that he was lavishing praise on their country’s female athletes at a time when there remains widespread uncertainty about Trump’s relationship with President Moon Jae-in.
Continuing on with his prepared remarks, Trump then offered some well-wishes in advance of the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea.
“You will do a magnificent job,” he said. “Good luck.”