President Donald Trump took Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a tour of local Trump golf properties Saturday while their wives visited the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens west of Delray Beach.
Trump and Abe golfed at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, where they were joined by two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, who has a home nearby. After more than four hours on the Jupiter links, Trump and Abe were ferried to Trump International Golf Club near Palm Beach International Airport, where the heads of state spent about two hours before returning to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.
Trump, staying at Mar-a-Lago for his second consecutive winter White House weekend, told his Twitter followers Saturday morning that the prime minister and his wife, Akie, are a “wonderful couple!” Later in the day, Trump’s social media accounts featured a picture of the president and Abe high-fiving on the golf course in Jupiter.
While their husbands golfed, Melania Trump and Akie Abe walked the grounds and had lunch at the Morikami, a vestige of an early-20th century link between Japan and Palm Beach County. A few dozen Japanese farmers formed the Yamato Colony in the Boca Raton area in 1905. Most of the farmers left before World War II, but George Sukeji Morikami remained and in the 1970s gave the county the land that is now the site of the museum and gardens.
Melania Trump later posted a picture on her Twitter account of the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-By-The-Sea in Palm Beach and said she was “Proud to share part of my family history with Mrs. Abe @BBTSchurch where @POTUS & I were married, where we celebrate and we pray.”
After thousands of anti-Trump protesters marched in West Palm Beach last weekend, demonstrations were more muted Saturday. About 20 protesters and half a dozen supporters of the president showed up outside the Jupiter golf course for the arrival of Trump and Abe.
One anti-Trump demonstrator, Susy Fliegelman, said she drove from Miami to join the protest.
“There are about 600 reasons why I’m here,” she said. “He’s ignoring us. He’s ignoring the people. It’s just awful.”
Nancy Eberle of Palm Beach Gardens and Eddie Radut of Jupiter stood and waited about three hours for a glimpse of the president as he was leaving. They were rewarded when the presidential motorcade went past and the president smiled and waved vigorously.
“This is probably the first and last time I would see the president,” Radut said. “Why not do it?”
For Eberle, who had sung the president’s praises as she waited to see him, getting a wave — and a brief recording and picture of his motorcade — had special meaning.
“My dad is ill, and I wanted to get the picture of the motorcade for him,” Eberle said. “He’s 79 years old. He is so pro-Trump. He’s a military man, and he’s happy with what Trump will do for veterans.”
Later Saturday, a planned protest outside the Palm Beach home of Trump friend and economic adviser Stephen Schwarzman failed to materialize. Private equity billionaire Schwarzman was celebrating his 70th birthday about 2 miles south of Mar-a-Lago, sparking rumors that Trump would attend the event.
Four groups — United Front Against Trump, Progressive Caucus of Miami Dade, South Florida Activism, and the New Florida Majority — helped organize the Schwarzman event and had a bus painted with flowers and a man doing yoga to transport protesters. About 25 private security guards were ready for the demonstrators. About 12 protesters showed up, going to Bingham Island near Mar-a-Lago rather than Schwarzman’s house.
Staff writer Justin Price and Gregory Cox of The Palm Beach Daily News contributed to this story.