Presidential handshakes used to be boring and perfunctory part of the job.
But since President Donald Trump’s election, each meeting between the U.S. president and his foreign counterparts turns into a game of macho one-upmanship, with sometimes strange or hilarious results.
Trump’s first handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron, back on May 25, was described as “fierce” by one columnist, with both world leaders strongly gripping one another’s hand and clenching their jaws.
Their parting handshake Friday, after a brief Paris visit by Trump as questions exploded about his family’s meetings with Russia, was possibly the strangest yet.
The men shook hands as they began to walk toward reporters, and Trump patted Marcon’s hand with his left and said something privately to him as they continued walking.
Macron then pumped the president’s hand once more, a bit forcefully, then leaned in toward the taller Trump and said something behind a cupped hand.
Trump paused a moment, then replied as they changed grips on the handshake, and the two men exchanged a few more comments as they gripped hands.
The U.S. president finally patted Marcon’s hand again and then reached out with his left to greet the French first lady.
He kissed Brigitte Macron on the cheek as her husband continued gripping Trump’s hand.
The French president finally released his grip on Trump’s hand after about 25 seconds, and the U.S. president then took both Brigitte Macron’s hands for an awkward two-handed embrace.
The presidents then addressed each other again, patting one another on the shoulder, and then gripped hands once more.
Trump and his wife, Melania, finally walked away from t
It all started with an intense handshake, way back on May 25, amid tension between the two over the Paris climate accord. The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker described their first greeting as “fierce,” as the two seemingly clenched their jaws and refused to be the first to back down.