image

New Zealand

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern told Donald Trump: ‘No one marched when I was elected’ ... and he wasn’t offended

New Zealand prime minister describes lighthearted retort to US president after he ribbed her for ‘causing a lot of upset in her country’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 1:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 1:25pm

New Zealand’s new prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described how she joked with US President Donald Trump when they first met, telling the US president “no one marched when I was elected”.

Revealing details about her first meeting with Trump at the east Asia summit in Vietnam last week, Ardern said the exchange was low-key and relaxed.

Ardern was sworn in as prime minister last month. The pair had already had a conversation by telephone in late October, when Trump called Ardern at her Auckland home to congratulate her on winning the election.

The meeting at the east Asia summit was the first time the leaders – who are polar opposites on the political spectrum – had been introduced face to face.

“I was waiting to walk out to be introduced at the east Asia summit gala dinner, where we all paraded and while we were waiting, Trump, in jest, patted the person next to him on the shoulder, pointed at me and said: ‘This lady caused a lot of upset in her country,’ talking about the election.” Ardern told Newsroom.

“I said: ‘Well, you know, only maybe 40 per cent,’ then he said it again and I said, ‘You know,’ laughing, ‘no one marched when I was elected’.”

Asked by The New Zealand Herald about her impressions of Trump, Ardern was diplomatic.

“He is consistent,” Ardern said.

“He is the same person that you see behind the scenes as he is in the public or through the media.”

Ardern became well known for her quick wit during the New Zealand election campaign and her pithy retort to Trump has been praised by New Zealanders on social media, who applauded her pluck in speaking plainly to the most powerful politician in the world.

“He laughed and it was only afterwards that I reflect that it could have been taken in a very particular way,” Ardern continued.

“He did not seem offended.”

Previously, Ardern said she planned to handle any relations with Trump as a “diplomat” – an intention that seems to have been challenged by their most recent exchange.

“Despite us coming from different parts of the political spectrum, that is not new for world leaders and I have to respect democracy and the people who’ve chosen their leader in the United States,” Ardern said at the time.

On January 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration, Ardern joined thousands in Auckland as part of the global women’s march, which arose in reaction to a series of complaints from women about sexual advances from the US president, as well as his plans to cut access to abortion across the US and in developing countries supported by US aid.

In September The Wall Street Journal said that Ardern was New Zealand’s own version of Trump because of her plan to crack down on immigration; a headline Ardern labelled “offensive” and “absolutely false”.