No handshakes – so Donald Trump and Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar make a namaste greeting as president says he will postpone string of mega-rallies
- President Donald Trump and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar exchanged a namaste instead of a handshake in the Oval Office
- Officials have warned against handshaking to avoid spreading coronavirus
- ‘We didn’t shake hands today,’ Trump said. ‘We kind of looked at each other and we said what are we going to do. It’s sort of a weird feeling’
- Trump also said he was canceling campaign rallies
- ‘The question is how many people will die? And I don’t want people dying’
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
President Donald Trump and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar exchanged a namaste instead of a handshake in the Oval Office on Thursday.
Health officials have warned against handshaking and advised people to ‘social distance’ to protect themselves against the coronavirus.
The two leaders followed that advice during their meeting at the White House. The Irish leader traditionally visits the American president ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.
‘We didn’t shake hands today,’ Trump said. ‘We kind of looked at each other and we said what are we going to do. It’s sort of a weird feeling.’
President Donald Trump and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar exchanged a namaste instead of a handshake in the Oval Office
President Trump said it was a ‘weird feeling’ not to shake hands with his fellow world leader
President Trump demonstrates the namaste greeting
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (R) and his predecessor, Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney (C) in the Oval Office on Thursday
The two instead folded their hands in prayer position and bowed to each other – the traditional namaste greeting used in parts of Southeast Asia.
‘I just got back from India,’ the president said, referring to his state visit there. ‘And I didn’t shake any hands there and it was easy because they go like this [he made namaste bow] and Japan goes like this [he bowed from waist].’
‘They were ahead of the curve,’ he noted.
Photos from his two-day state trip to India last month, however, show the president shaking hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian President Ram Nath Kovind.
President Trump also confirmed he canceled a weekend trip to the West Coast, where he planned to hold some campaign rallies in Nevada and Colorado, attend a fundraiser at the home of GOP mega donor Sheldon Adelson, and speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition.
‘We had some big rallies we cancelled,’ Trump told reporters. He said he’d probably . have Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, who he was supposed to campaign for in Colorado on Friday amid Gardner’s tough re-election bid, to the White House on Friday instead.
Health officials advise people to avoid large gatherings until the coronavirus fears pass. Trump’s rallies draw thousands. His last was March 2 in Charlotte, N.C.
As early as Saturday, Trump had shrugged off concerns, saying he planned to continue to hold his mega-rallies.
But now he’s changed his mind as the number of cases has risen to 1,364 Americans.
He said he planned to cancel a rally scheduled for Tampa, Florida, on March 25.
President Trump said he was canceling campaign rallies out of fear of the coronavirus; his last rally was on March 2 in Charlotte, N.C.
President Donald Trump said he didn’t shake hands in India but above he shakes hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on February 25
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and his wife Savita Kovind stand with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump as they arrive for a state banquet at Rashtrapati Bhavan on February 25 in New Delhi
‘We had a big one in Tampa that was all sold out but I think we’ll not do it because people say it’s better you not do,’ he said.
‘The question is how many people will die? And I don’t want people dying,’ he said.
He noted he wanted to stay in the White House, which he called the ‘nerve center’ for coronavirus operations.
‘We have a lot of things we’re moving around because of this thing. Because I want to be here,’ he noted.
On the Democratic side, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have also cancelled campaign rallies because of health concerns.
And Sunday’s Democratic primary debate will no longer have a live studio audience.
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