Following the violent events at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, President Trump was asked if he would visit Charlottesville. He then replied by saying, "Charlottesville is a great place that's been very badly hurt over the last couple of days. I own, I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States. It's in Charlottesville."
The legitimacy of his statement was immediately brought into question, challenging the ownership of the winery as well as its revenue and size.
The intent behind his comments may have been as simple as to say that he was familiar with the area by saying he has a house and winery there, but Trump needs to be more careful with his words, especially when addressing national issues.
The president should also not be permitted to freely advertise his personal businesses while in office, particularly when faced with national crises.
Speaking and bragging on the behalf of his personal companies when asked about a devastating national issue makes him seem more than insensitive about the issue. He disregarded the topic completely to advertise himself and his business.
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., has become a nucleus for government bigwigs and lobbyists to meet and mingle over expensive food and drinks. It's the only restaurant at which Trump has dined, and members of his administration openly endorse stopping by.
It is a clear conflict of interest for a presidential administration to be effectively advertising the business ventures of the current president.
Being president of the United States will inevitably be an advertisement to everything he does, and every business he owns just by virtue of his media attention. However, he should not make that any sort of primary objective while in office, nor should anyone in his administration.
There have been other concerns over his products due to his presidency.
For instance, sales of his wine in a national park gift shop was brought to the public's attention, and the takeaway is the same. The president does not need to advertise his personal business affairs to the world during his time in office.
Former White House ethics counsel Richard Painter was concerned that the larger context of this situation was troubling, saying, “The Trump administration has sent the message that the promotion of the Trump brand name is critically important to the president."
That brand name is hurting some businesses. The owners of the Trump International Hotel in Panama want to remove his name from the hotel in the hopes it will help counteract the vacancies they have seen.
With the conceited nature that Trump portrays, it is natural to fear his role in the presidency is in part to further advertise himself and his brand.
Whether this is a legitimate concern or not, and recognizing that his presidency will inevitably be an advertisement for his businesses, Trump needs to make sure that he is appealing to more of the population.
With a significantly larger percentage of people who disapprove of his work in office than those who approve, he must recognize that the work he does as president will actually have an effect on his personal life and business after he leaves office.
If he is concerned with how well his personal businesses are doing, then the best advertisement for them may be to do a good job as president, rather than publicizing his brand while faced with real, national issues.
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