President Donald Trump reportedly begged the Vietnamese government to buy American military equipment because he needed “quick wins” ahead of upcoming elections.
Sources tell Bloomberg that Trump grilled Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc about why his country wasn’t spending more money buying American weapons.
“He needed quick wins, he told his team in the room, because he’d be running for re-election before anyone realized,” Bloomberg reports. “And weapons sales, in Trump’s view, are good for his approval ratings.”
Trump apparently spent much of his trip hawking American weapons to other countries, as he sought to emulate the early success he had in cutting a massive weapons deal with Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
“Trump rarely set down in a country without pointing out that buying a few F-18s would go a long way toward winning his heart,” Bloomberg writes. “But he’ll return home to Washington without having secured a major new order for American defense contractors.”
Bloomberg’s sources also say that Trump disappointed many American allies in Asia during his trip by showing an unwillingness to embrace a long-term strategy for the United States’ relationship with the region.
“Local leaders were looking for seriousness and not just stamina, any sign Trump was prepared to provide a potent counter-balance to China,” writes Bloomberg. “There, he offered them little reason for optimism. He was already tweeting about the tax reform fight back home before he even left Manila, his final stop.”