Mr. Trump has expressed dread over the rigors of so much travel, but professed enthusiasm as he prepared to depart. “Getting ready for my big foreign trip,” he wrote on Twitter before leaving the White House. “Will be strongly protecting American interests — that’s what I like to do!”
Traveling with him were his wife, Melania Trump, and his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well aides including Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, and Gary Cohn, the national economics adviser.
The White House cast the trip as a reassertion of American leadership in the world after what it portrayed as a fallow period under President Barack Obama.
“There is a great sense of expectation and I think a great welcomeness of America returning to the scene,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said on Thursday. Many foreign leaders, he added, want to see an end to what they consider a dismissal of their concerns. “They’re ready for re-engagement with America.”
Mr. Tillerson and other advisers dismissed questions about developments at home that will almost certainly dog Mr. Trump while he is abroad. “The people in the rest of the world do not have the time to pay attention to what’s happening domestically here,” he said. “They are more concerned about what they see happening in the relationship with their country and what we are bringing to address these very serious challenges that are affecting all of us.”
But even if people in the rest of the world are not paying attention, presidents in such situations generally do, testing their ability to walk an international tightrope even as they try to stage-manage events thousands of miles away.
“The president must be able to compartmentalize to survive the rigors of the job,” said Mara Rudman, a top national security…