Merkel watched an hour-long video of Trump on a stop in Pennsylvania during his Thank You Tour, a kind of victory lap the billionaire is taking around the country after his unexpected November win. She advised the national executive committee of her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party to watch the speech as well, remarking that, "It is interesting to see the thought environment he inhabits,” according to Spiegel.
When Trump lambasted the American press in his speech, calling them "the world's most dishonest people," Merkel reportedly questioned his political maturity, but what really captured her attention was when the real-estate magnate remarked, "There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, a global flag. We salute one flag, and that is the American flag."
The German chancellor took these comments as an indication of Trump’s nascent foreign policy, calling it “culturally interesting.” She pointed out to the committee the reality-television star’s “America first” tunnel-vision on domestic issues and his plans to enact sweeping tax cuts, especially for the wealthy.
Though Merkel remained fairly tight-lipped during the US election and even considered Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s labeling of Trump as a "hate preacher" inappropriate, she reportedly does not have high hopes for the President-elect’s administration.
Following the election she soberly commented that, "Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom and respect for law," noting her willingness to work with Trump on the "basis of these values."
Merkel and her staff expressed dismay at Trump’s online presence and his refusal to abandon his Twitter account, where he routinely lashes out at critics and cranks out knee-jerk reactions to any perceived attack.
He also confused some by using the platform to encourage British Prime Minister Theresa May to appoint political rival Nigel Farage as Britain’s representative to Washington.
In November, Trump tweeted, "Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!"
Representatives in the UK responded by reminding the President-elect of their responsibility to choose that post.
Trump was complementary to Merkel in 2015, commented that she was "probably the greatest leader in the world today," but when Germany’s refugee crisis hit, the controversial right winger quickly changed his tune, saying, "What she's done in Germany is insane. It's insane." He also insulted Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton during the election by calling the former US Secretary of State "America’s Merkel."
Trump’s response to Germany’s present political and social climate is unsurprising, given the virulent anti-immigrant tone of his campaign, which included labeling undocumented immigrants as criminals and rapists, and his infamous call to construct a wall cordoning off the almost 2000-mile border between Mexico and the US.
Pundits have noted a right-wing geopolitical shift following Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, motivated largely by the kind of anti-immigrant sentiment that helped Trump gain the presidency. Shortly after Trump’s victory, Frauke Petry, leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) spoke of regional immigration and tax issues saying, "The issues that moved the detached middle class in America to vote for Trump are issues we face in Europe."