ABERDEEN, Scotland — Before Donald Trump arrived at his golf course here on the shore of the North Sea, a staffer at the facility told the several dozen reporters waiting that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would not be taking questions. “Mr. Trump just wants to give you a tour of the course today,” the woman said.
But Trump, as he often has during his unusual, odds-defying presidential bid, had different ideas.
The moment he stepped from his white Trump-branded helicopter alongside the 10th hole on the second and final day of his Scottish visit, the New York real estate mogul made a beeline for reporters. And he took question after question in a rambling press conference that continued for five holes, along the fairway, in the rough, and atop the sandy dunes that rise high along the sea in what the always on-message Trump frequently reminded reporters was one of the “world’s greatest” golf courses.
Though his staff had said he just wanted to talk golf, Trump quickly disregarded that edict, reaffirming his praise for the British vote to exit the European Union. Asked about the turmoil it has caused in the global financial markets, Trump replied that it was “too bad” but downplayed the role the so-called Brexit decision had played in riling the American stock market. He suggested there were larger factors involved. “A lot of bad decisions, a lot of bad things happening in this world,” Trump said.
Repeatedly pressed on what he would say to Americans worried about their retirement accounts, Trump straightened his white “Make America Great Again” hat, which had come loose atop his head. “Americans are very much different. This shouldn’t even affect them,” he replied.
A moment later, Trump seemed anxious to move on. “We’re going to go up to the 14th tee, if anybody wants to see it,” the businessman and former reality television star told reporters. “They say it’s one of the great sights of the world, if you want to see it. These are among the largest dunes anywhere in the world. If you’d like to see it, follow me.”
Of course, his press corps did. As the candidate walked away, photographers and television crews, many from news agencies outside the U.S., ran over one another as if in a scene from “Braveheart” to grab choice seats in a long convoy of golf carts. The writers ran to nearby vans, and those who couldn’t find a seat simply took off on foot in pursuit of the candidate, who had taken the wheel of his own golf cart, with his 9-year-old granddaughter, Kai, beside him. A convoy of Secret Service agents trailed in their own carts, trying to keep up.
Over one hill and then another, Trump finally parked just short of his destination — stopping at the 13th tee, where he posed for photos with his family, including sons Eric and Donald Jr., and waited for the media to catch up. And soon the rambling gaggle continued, as reporters pressed Trump on what he meant when he said Americans shouldn’t be affected by the Brexit decision. “Ideally, it shouldn’t,” the Republican hopeful said.
A larger problem, the real estate mogul argued, was the growing national debt, which he blamed on President Obama. “That’s going to affect America a lot more than Brexit,” Trump insisted. “Brexit is not their problem.” And even as his children seemed to grow irritated as reporters stomped all over the green listening to their father, Trump kept talking and talking.
Did he have a reaction to the Mexican flags that were being flown by a neighbor in protest of his anti-immigrant rhetoric? “Didn’t see them,” Trump replied. Had he been in touch with his foreign policy advisers about the Brexit vote and its impact on the United States? “I speak to foreign policy advisers all the time. But the advice has to come from me,” Trump said. But, he added, what good were foreign policy advisers anyway? “What have these policy advisers done for us? Other than get big fees? It’s an embarrassment. The whole world is a mess. These people don’t have it. Honestly, most of them are no good.”
Then, without missing a beat, Trump declared, “Let’s go to the 14th.” And the candidate walked past his Secret Service agents and waded through the sea of reporters to climb back into his golf cart.
Situated atop a large dune overlooking the sea, the 14th tee was as picturesque as Trump had promised. And upon arrival, the candidate walked to the edge, where he stood chatting with his staff and family. It seemed as though his rolling news conference might finally be over. But when Trump looked down and saw a few reporters, including this one, observing him from a tee below, he threw his hands in the air like an exasperated dad trying to corral his rebellious children. “Guys!” he barked. “GET UP HERE!” And the press conference continued.
Although he might not think the British vote to leave the European Union should affect the United States, a reporter told him, the country’s financial markets were taking a hit. “Nobody knows that,” Trump interjected. Echoing comments he made Friday, he trashed Obama for “getting involved” in the vote.
But pressed on how he might handle the crisis, Trump offered only vague details. “I would deal with it very well, believe me, but I’m not president right now,” the real estate mogul said. “But if and when I become president, I will deal with it very well. But they have a mess on their hands.”
The expedition continued around a bend to the 18th hole, where Trump continued talking — even as his staff tried to wave back reporters, suggesting the event was winding down. “The world under this leadership is falling apart,” Trump continued, linking his likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to what he called Obama’s “failed” leadership.
“I felt that what happened was going to happen,” Trump said of Brexit. But, he added, “It was sad for David Cameron, it was very pathetic for President Obama, and it was certainly pathetic for Hillary Clinton. They called it wrong.”
As Trump began to move back toward his golf cart, he cautioned reporters standing near the edge of the high dune. “Don’t fall!” he called. “I don’t want to be sued.” But he kept talking.
He dismissed Republicans critical of his decision to leave the campaign trail for an overseas trip to promote his businesses. “One night, one night … Do I have the right to have one night?” Trump replied, with a hint of annoyance.
By then, some of the foreign press corps were growing weary of covering the real estate mogul. They walked back to their golf carts, where they collapsed with fatigue. “Shhhh!,” a television producer said, hushing a boom mic engineer who was breathing so hard from running after Trump that many reporters couldn’t hear the candidate.
Still, Trump kept talking. “What about your vice presidential search?” a reporter asked. Trump replied that it was “coming along good” and that many people had been calling him eager to get the job. He declined to say how many people were on the list or whether he had narrowed it down.
From the back of the scrum, a television producer yelled out, asking Trump if the number of names on his list was larger or smaller than the par of the course — par 5.
The candidate grinned, but didn’t reply. An hour later, he was finally done talking.