President Donald Trump paid tribute to the legacy of Winston Churchill on Friday during his visit to the United Kingdom.
During a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump made note of his tour of a Churchill exhibit the night before at Blenheim Palace, the estate near Oxford where the wartime leader was born.
And he marveled during the joint appearance at Chequers, the 16th century country residence used by British prime ministers since the 1920s.
“It was from right here at Chequers that Prime Minister Churchill phoned President [Franklin] Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor,” Trump said, referencing the surprise attack by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941, that plunged the U.S. into World War II.
“In that horrific war, American and British service members bravely shed their blood alongside one other in defense of home and in defense of freedom and together we achieved a really special, magnificent victory,” he said.
Trump also sat in Churchill’s chair at Chequers, according to a photo that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders shared on Twitter.
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) July 13, 2018
The president has long admired Churchill, who coined the phrase the “special relationship” to describe U.S.- British relations.
Trump has praised the leadership of Churchill, who has been revered by American conservatives for his tenacity during the war and role in defeating the Nazis.
The president reinstalled a bust of Churchill in the Oval Office shortly after his inauguration in 2017 and later that year screened the 2017 film “Darkest Hour” at the White House in a sign of his affinity for the British leader.
“The president knows how important the special relationship is firsthand and that’s why the bust of Churchill is actually in the Oval Office as we speak. This is not an accident,” said Woody Johnson, Trump’s ambassador to the U.K.
“He knows that he has an opportunity to make this special relationship even stronger.”
In the weeks before Trump’s inauguration, May sent Trump a copy of the text of Churchill’s 1941 Christmas Eve radio address to Americans, delivered while the prime minister was staying with Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor.
Churchill spent three weeks at the White House, cementing his ties with Roosevelt and forming the basis for future relations between the U.S. and the U.K.
During a 1946 speech at Westminster College in Missouri, Churchill described the alliance between the two nations as the “special relationship” that required not only “the growing friendship and mutual understanding” but also the “continuance of the intimate relationship between our military advisers, leading to common study of potential dangers.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of “Trump’s America,” said parallels can be drawn between Churchill’s years in the wilderness during the 1930s and Trump’s emergence in Republican politics from outside the establishment.
“‘Darkest Hour’ would appeal to Trump because it combines courageous self-direction, standing up to the old order, with an almost mystic sense of speaking for the people,” Gingrich said in an email. “Both represent national patriotism.”
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