- Republican candidate hits out at chancellor’s refugee policy
- Merkel aide steers clear of U.S. election-year politics
Germany’s government sidestepped Donald Trump’s bait after the Republican Party nominee again singled out Chancellor Angela Merkel for criticism and predicted she would lose the next election.
“We don’t comment on the U.S. election campaign,” German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in Berlin on Wednesday when asked about Trump’s comment at a rally in Ashburn, Virginia, that “Merkel’s not going to be elected.”
The billionaire real-estate developer has hit out at Europe’s most powerful leader for her open-border migration policy after more than 1 million asylum seekers arrived in Germany last year, the most since World War II. Merkel has avoided responding to the verbal attacks, including Trump’s description of her refugee policy as “insane.”
At the rally on Tuesday, Trump sought to link terror attacks in France and Germany with Merkel’s stance on immigration, citing “the crime wave over there” and saying he’s heard of people who want to leave Germany as a result. The attacks included two by asylum seekers in Bavaria in July that German authorities say are linked to Islamic State.
“And you watch what happens to Angela Merkel, who I always thought of as a very good leader until she did this,” Trump said. “Angela, what happened?”
While Merkel hasn’t publicly announced a bid for a fourth term in Germany’s 2017 election, all national polls suggest her Christian Democratic Union would win the most votes if parliamentary elections were held now. If the chancellor were elected directly, 46 percent of respondents would choose Merkel and 15 percent would pick Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, whose Social Democratic Party is Germany’s second-biggest, according to a July 25-29 Forsa poll of 2,503 people published Wednesday.
Asked at a news conference on July 28 whether she had nightmares about Trump being president, Merkel said, “I can answer that question with a clear ‘No.’”
While French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday lashed out at Trump for “excesses” in the U.S. presidential campaign, Merkel has kept silent on the prospect that the Republican candidate might win the presidency.
“I don’t know him personally,” she told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in March, after giving an effusive assessment of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t want to wade into the American debate,” Merkel said during last week’s news conference. “I’m following it with interest. I’ll just wait for the vote result.”