Trump blows response to Brexit vote
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When Britain voted on Thursday to leave the European Union in the Brexit vote, there is no question that it should have given a boost to the candidacy of presumptive Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE. The Brexit vote demonstrated the power of the anti-establishment sentiment that is running rampant in the United States and throughout the democratic world. And there is no doubt that Trump has campaigned as the anti-establishment candidate, as well as a candidate running against immigration.

Trump then proceeded to spend the aftermath of the Brexit vote doing damage to whatever gains he should have made.


First, Trump had landed in Scotland, not for diplomatic meetings with high-level officials to enhance his commander-in-chief stature, but to help his financially troubled golf course in Scotland. The problem is that the voters in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in Europe, and by gloating about the Brexit vote, Trump probably angered many of the people in Scotland who would normally be customers of his troubled golf course — while making himself look much less than presidential.

While Trump was insulting voters in Scotland who want to remain in Europe, many Republicans at home were questioning why a candidate for president would have been hustling for a business venture at any time, let alone during a crisis such as Brexit.

Meanwhile, one of the big winners of the Brexit vote was Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who has praised Trump and whom Trump has praised. The more divided Europe becomes, the more Putin will try to exploit that division to Russian advantage at a time when European nations and NATO are united against Russian aggression in Ukraine and his support for the mass murderer Bashar Assad in Syria.

While the media were quoting Trump crowing about Brexit, the same media were quoting Putin similarly crowing with comments designed to put pressure on Britain and Europe shortly after the Brexit votes were counted.

Once the votes were formally counted and the Brexit results were publicly certified, global markets began to collapse. By the close of trading on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by about 600 points. Throughout the weekend, there will be intense worry about whether the market would crash when trading resumes, which might or might not happen.

American families returned home from work on Friday, watched the evening news and prepared to read their daily newspapers on Saturday worried about the dramatic loss of value of their 401(k) retirement plans. What did American families, worried about their retirement plans, think when they saw Trump gloating about the Brexit vote that caused the deep fall in the markets?

To make matters worse for Trump, those families would have watched Trump gloating about a vote that made their retirement programs lose value while he was out promoting a golf course to reduce his losses and seek a profit. Is that how a potential president should act in a crisis? It should remind many voters of a charge effectively leveled against Trump by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill | Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on relief | Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on struggling economy Louisville mayor declares racism a public health crisis MORE (D-Mass.), who criticized Trump for using his troubled Trump University to advise people to buy homes at low prices after the owners were thrown out due to foreclosure!

There is no question that the anti-establishment mood in Britain that produced support for Brexit should have helped Trump, who has raised these same issues in his own campaign. But the way Trump conducted himself after European allies are threatened by crisis and American families feel threatened by their retirement plans whose value was reduced by the market fall made him look crass, self-indulgent and greedy — again.

But Trump blew it. He gave voters powerful reasons to remember why his negative ratings have risen to almost 70 percent in one poll and are sky-high in all polls. He did not look like a president after the Brexit vote; he looked like a bird of prey tying to exploit divisions among our strongest allies and the middle-class worry over retirement plans for his own advantage, which is not what presidents do or how presidents are elected.

This piece was corrected on June 27, 2016 at 8:05 a.m.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at