BERLIN — “So Trump …”
A smile broke across the face of Alice Weidel, one of the top candidates representing Alternative for Germany, an anti-immigrant, nationalist party apparently poised to enter the German Parliament for the first time after September elections.
Speaking to reporters Monday in Berlin, Weidel knew the question was coming. Even here, less than a month before Germany's federal elections, President Trump dominates the conversation. She took a long pause, and then: “Hmmm.”
She chose her words carefully, blaming the news media for exaggerating the picture of the American president — whose nativist policies are echoed by the Alternative for Germany movement. Polls suggest the party could gain as much as 10 percent of the vote, which would make it the third-largest party in Parliament.
Then came some familiar advice: Tweet less. Trump's supporters have offered it. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has offered it. And now a leader of Germany's far-right party, which has challenged guilt over Nazi crimes, was offering it.
“If I had a wish list for Donald Trump, it would be that he would tweet less,” she said, adding that she would also like to see him “clean up his own shop more and deal more humbly with his governmental responsibility.”
Her message represented remarkably pointed criticism of the American president, who, on paper, should be a major boon to Europe's far-right parties. He shares their antipathy to open borders and political correctness, as well as their emphasis on national culture.
But Weidel's remarks are the latest testament to the distance even right-wing leaders in Europe are seeking to put between themselves and Trump — in large part because of his style and blunders, which they see as unbecoming. Many were silent earlier this month after Trump blamed “many sides” for violence sowed by white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.
Asked how Trump was shaping the Alternative for Germany party, Weidel replied bluntly: “There's no influence.”
She may have good reason to play it safe. The party, known as the AfD, looks to be on comfortable footing ahead of next month's election. Weidel said Monday its goal was simply clearing the 5 percent threshold to enter the lower house.
Luisa Beck contributed to this report.