- Emmanuel Macron seemed to score a diplomatic victory over Donald Trump last year by besting him in a handshake.
- A new Vanity Fair profile of Macron says he got ready for the encounter by studying videos of Trump handshakes.
- Since their combative first meeting, Macron and Trump have embarked on something of a bromance.
Emmanuel Macron studied videos of Donald Trump shaking people’s hands to get ready for their first encounter, where the French president came off the stronger after a white-knuckle contest between the two leaders.
Macron looked up footage of Trump’s erratic handshake technique, where he yanks the whole arm of the other person towards him in an apparent act of dominance.
When Macron’s turn came, however, he was ready. The encounter was at a NATO summit last May, and Macron seemed to come off stronger in a battle of wills with Trump, causing a viral sensation.
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Shortly after the shake, the French ambassador said he had tipped Macron off and advised him how to react. And now, in a long profile of Macron published by Vanity Fair, interviewer Tom Sancton revealed that watching videos of prior Trump handshakes was the way Macron won the day.
Discussing the Trump-Macron relationship more broadly, Sancton wrote:
“Their relationship did not begin well. At the NATO summit in Brussels last May, Macron pointedly bypassed Trump’s outstretched hand to greet Angela Merkel.
“When Macron and Trump did shake hands, it was a white-knuckler that went viral on the internet. (Macron had actually practised the manoeuvre after studying videos of his counterpart’s intimidating shake-and-jerk trick.)”
Since then the French and US presidents have made much of their close relationship. Trump made a state visit to France last summer, and was in Paris on Bastille Day.
More recently, Macron was quick to back up Trump’s plan to launch an airstrike on Syria, and committed French naval and air assets to assist in the bombing.
Macron is also making state visit to Washington, D.C., this week, the first leader whom Trump has honoured in this way.