Vice President Mike Pence appeared to have overestimated his audience’s opinion of the American president on Friday when he spoke during an event at the Munich Security Conference.
The vice president was in Germany as part of a delegation of U.S. lawmakers to the annual conference that dates back to the height of the Cold War.
″I especially want to invite all of you to thank Senator Lindsey Graham for leading this delegation,” Pence said.
A strong round of applause followed.
“And to [...] all of you I bring greetings from a great champion of freedom and of strong national defense, who must work with these members of Congress to strengthen America’s military might and strengthen the leadership of the free world,” he continued. “I bring greetings from the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.”
The crowd did not react.
Pence then paused for several long seconds before continuing his planned remarks. He was speaking at the conference’s inaugural John McCain Dissertation Award ceremony, an academic prize named in honor of the late senator who attended the meeting for decades ― and who was famously antagonized by Trump.
The Trump administration is not popular among the conference’s global leaders and defense chiefs. A report put out ahead of the conference decried the administration’s “irritating enthusiasm for strongmen across the globe” and “disdain for international institutions and agreements.”
“The whole liberal world order appears to be falling apart ― nothing is as it once was,” Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, wrote in an editorial published ahead of the conference.
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel finished an extended critique of Trump’s “America First” policies, she received an enthusiastic standing ovation. (Ivanka Trump, an adviser to the president and his eldest daughter, did not join in.)
While the conference has traditionally given world leaders a moment to come together in pursuit of shared goals, this year’s tone has highlighted the division between the U.S. and other superpowers.