Macron Out-Trumps Trump in Handshake Duel Before NATO Summit

  • Trump’s handshake style under microscope since Abe meeting
  • Trump and Macron met for first time ahead of NATO leader talks

French President Emmanuel Macron out-Trumped President Donald Trump in a handshake before the NATO summit in Brussels. (Source: Bloomberg)

Donald Trump is known for employing knuckle-crushing, testosterone-driven, arm-shuddering handshakes. But he met his match today in Emmanuel Macron.

It took the French president just six seconds to out-Trump Trump in a handshake that showed the world -- and a man three decades his senior -- that there’s a new leader on the world stage.

Trump’s trick is to go in strong and then hold on just slightly too long, often pulling the other man toward him. Meeting Macron for the first time before a NATO summit in Brussels, Trump went in firm as usual. But this time, it was Trump -- not Macron -- who tried to back out first. Macron simply wouldn’t let go as Trump tried to pull back once, and then flexed his fingers straight to get out. On the second try, he was able to pull away.

Read more: Trump Shames NATO Leaders on Defense Spending

The two seemed to get on well enough. Trump spoke about Macron’s “incredible campaign” and “tremendous victory.” He listened intently as Macron talked in his native language about their power to “together change many things,” even though the U.S. president has never shown himself to be conversant in French.

Trump’s handshake style has been under the microscope ever since his 19-second-long handshake with a visibly bewildered Shinzo Abe of Japan. Others have since learned how to deal with it. Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, managed to neutralize the Trumpshake with a clever combination of timing, balance and control.

Nations hardly rise and fall on this sort of thing, and Angela Merkel and Theresa May could be forgiven for rolling their eyes. But Macron can now claim he’s ready and willing to take Trump on in a part of statecraft that -- sometimes -- is not far from the playground.

Read more: Trump Pledges to Probe Intelligence Leaks After British Complaint

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.