Originally Published: November 14, 2017 6 a.m.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Seventy-one-year-old President Donald Trump is holding up just fine as he nears the end of his grueling five-nation trip to Asia. And he wants you to know it.
Trump's trip, the longest Far East itinerary for a president in a generation, was seen as test of stamina for a president with a strong aversion to long stretches away from his own bed. His age, combined with the demanding itinerary — five countries, three summits and a long string of ceremonies, dinners and meetings— had raised concerns Trump would grow grouchy and distracted.
But aside from reviving questions about Russian election meddling in the 2016 election and weekend tweets taunting North Korean's Kim Jong Un with schoolyard jabs, Trump has largely stayed on message and been unusually engaged, according to his traveling companions.
There were a handful of moments when Trump appeared to drag, including during a lengthy interpretive hip-hop performance in Manila and an extended toast in Vietnam that left journalists yawning. Trump also looked somewhat sour as he sat around a table with Southeast Asian leaders in Manila, arms folded.
The president also was "very frustrated" when his secret trip to the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between North and South Korea had to be scuttled due to fog, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Though he eventually deferred to military aides and Secret Service personnel who said a DMZ landing would be too dangerous, Trump at one point declared they should make a go of it anyway and later loudly cursed that he was only five minutes from the border when Marine One had to turn back, according to two White House officials not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
By and large, though, Trump appeared upbeat, reveling in the pomp and pageantry of lavish welcome ceremonies and state dinners.
When a dinner in Vietnam dragged late, Trump waved off aides who tried to arrange an early exit. Aides said he didn't complain when he was seated near dignitaries who spoke little English.
Trump mostly avoided gaffes, although he did struggle with a complicated, cross-body handshake among summit leaders in Manila. And he remained attentive during lengthy diplomatic rituals, including an hour-plus tour of a museum in Beijing's Forbidden City.
Trump did appear somewhat less enthused during the second half of the trip, when the grandeur of military parades and glitzy banquets gave way to glad-handing at summits.
Trump has long made stamina central to his identity as a politician, boasting during the 2016 election about his endurance and mocking opponents for being low-energy candidates. But this trip's schedule would be grueling for any president, particularly one who boasts about sleeping little and exercising less.
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