Donald Trump's so-called populist rhetoric from the campaign trail seemingly disappeared at the World Economic Forum in Davos, as the president cheered on globalism in front of the leaders of industry and swam in the waters of the well-to-do.
There's one trademark sentiment Trump kept, of course — his perceived disdain for the media. In the wake of news that Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last June, Trump, after calling the reports "fake news," Trump used his position in front of world business leaders to double down on his media bashing.
"It wasn't until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be," Trump said, evoking boos and hisses from the audience.
During his speech, the populist, America-first rhetoric showed up at times, but faded at others.
"Thank you to the leaders and innovators in our audience," Trump told the Davos crowd. "But most importantly, thank you to the hard-working men and women who do their duty each and every day making this a better world for everyone. Together, let us send our love and our gratitude to make them, because they really make our countries run. They make our countries great. Thank you and God bless you all."
Pointing to himself as the catalyst for the American economy, Trump also got partisan — and relitigated the 2016 election, yet again — saying that, had Hillary Clinton been president, the economy would be "worse off."
Before the speech, Trump was treated with kid gloves. He was announced by World Economic Forum chairman Klaus Schwab, who said that the president could be subject to "misconceptions and biased interpretations." That statement was met with more hissess, according to the Associated Press. Trump himself was greeted with "modest applause," according to the AP.
Trump promoted the idea of a level playing field on the world economic stage, while at the same time boasting of cuts in regulation which he said would bring more jobs to the United States. His views on trade were just as perplexing, the AP noted:
“We support free trade but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal,” said Trump, who has long expressed a preference for one-to-one national trade deals rather than regional ones. But he also left the door open to re-entering the Trans Pacific Partnership, a sweeping trade deal from which he withdrew a year ago, saying that “perhaps” the United States could resume negotiations with many of the participating countries at once.
Despite saying that "America first does not mean America alone," Trump didn't mention any global problems that might concern World Economic Forum attendees, like climate change.
But Trump seems to think of his appearance as a success. He boasted that he drew "a tremendous crowd and a crowd like they’ve never had before.” He bragged that "some really wonderful people" told him that he brought a je ne sais quoi to Davos. "This is like walking into the Academy Awards, except we have more photographers."
And there were signals that the globalists may be warming to Trump, too.
Trump's trip to Davos ended on what was surely a high note in the president's book — he had world leaders "bow and applaud the kid from Queens he never got over being," Politico columnist Susan Glasser noted.