President Trump toured a Customs and Border Protection facility in Yuma, Ariz., on Tuesday, and it provided him with one of his favorite kinds of photo opportunities: The chance to stand in front of, and touch, American-made vehicles.
During a visit to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Trump inspected a Predator drone, a helicopter and a small boat, flanked by Customs and Border Protection agents.
Trump nodded along, and tapped on the exterior of the vehicles as an officer explained their use. But while the photo op served a purpose – to reinforce Trump’s commitment to increased border security measures – it didn’t quite feature the exuberance of his past vehicular exploits.
Trump’s first encounter with vehicles as president came just a few weeks after his inauguration, when a delegation from Harley-Davidson visited the White House along with some of their motorcycles.
When Trump walked down the White House driveway, he seemed excited to see vehicles built in the United States.
“Harley-Davidson is a true American icon. One of the greats,” he said.
And it wasn’t just the company he complimented.
“You’ve given me tremendous support, your workers in particular,” Trump added.
But in the case of the motorcycles, at least, Trump wasn’t exactly willing to hop in the saddle.
“They wanted me to ride one and I said, ‘No, thank you,’” Trump said later.
He was much more willing to hop in the front seat of a Mack truck the next month, when trucking industry leaders visited the White House.
Trump didn’t just get in the cab; he pulled the truck’s horn repeatedly, closed the door of the cab while he was inside, and pretended to drive at breakneck speeds. He looked like he was genuinely having fun – something we haven’t seen much of from Trump thus far in his presidency.
In July, another set of vehicles came to the White House, this time as part of “Made in America Week,” one in a series of weekly themes the White House attempted to focus on during the summer. And this time, Trump, accompanied by Vice President Pence, decided to hop into a fire truck. Disappointingly, perhaps, he did not turn on any of the sirens or lights.
One of the reasons Trump might have had a little fun behind the wheel? Presidents rarely, if ever, get to drive. They’re chauffeured in the presidential limousine, or a helicopter, most of the time.
And they certainly don’t get to drive cars on public roads. President Obama filmed an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Jerry Seinfeld, and was allowed to drive a 1963 Corvette Stingray around the White House grounds, but didn’t make it anywhere near Pennsylvania Avenue.
Trump hasn’t been seen driving a car at all during his presidency, never mind a fire truck or a Customs and Border Enforcement helicopter or boat.
But he did get to drive a golf cart around his course in Bedminster, N.J in June, and even though he angered some by driving straight onto the green, he seemed to have a great time.