Washington: A White House official has made discreet inquiries into the possibility of Donald Trump’s image being carved into Mount Rushmore.
According to The New York Times, the official, who was not named, approached the office of Kristi Noem, the South Dakota governor, last year to ask how an additional president could be added to the monument.
Details of the approach emerged over the weekend. Likenesses of four former presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt – were immortalised in the massive 1941 sculpture which took 14 years to create.
The attraction in the Black Hills has more than 2 million visitors a year.
Trump first raised the possibility of being added to the pantheon when he met Noem at the Oval Office as far back as 2017.
The South Dakota governor assumed the President was joking, she recalled a year later. “He said, ‘Kristi, come on over here. Shake my hand’. I shook his hand, and I said, ‘Mr President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore.’
“And he goes, ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?’ I started laughing. He wasn’t laughing, so he was totally serious.”
The South Dakota governor did present Trump with 1.2 metre replica of Mount Rushmore – with his face added – when he visited the state early last month. Social media reaction to the approach was scathing.
Eric Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from California, suggested on Twitter that it would be more appropriate to add Trump’s face to the Confederate likenesses at Stone Mountain in Georgia.
The chances of Trump’s dream becoming a reality are considered slim, given the lack of usable rock on either side of the existing likenesses.
The kerfuffle over Trump’s desire to carve his way into history was the culmination of a difficult weekend for the President.
On Saturday he abruptly ended a news conference after being challenged over claiming credit for passing the Veterans Choice Program, which made it easier for former servicemen and women to get medical care. The legislation was passed in 2014 and signed by Barack Obama. Trump signed a law which expanded eligibility for the scheme.
He still appears to be facing an uphill battle to be re-elected in November. Polls last week in key swing states including Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina showed Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead.
Trump has sought to regain the initiative by issuing a series of executive orders which would guarantee the unemployed receive $US400 ($558) a week in benefit. With the Democrats and Republicans deadlocked over the next relief package, he went over their heads in announcing his own plans.
The orders, signed at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, would also defer tax and student loan payments.
The Telegraph, London