Donald Trump has denied a strange report that a White House official inquired about adding his face to Mount Rushmore, labelling it “fake news”.
Mount Rushmore, located in Keystone, South Dakota, is one of the United States’ most recognisable monuments.
The faces of four former presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln – are carved into the side of an enormous rock face.
Over the weekend, The New York Times reported the rather baffling news that an official from Mr Trump’s White House had contacted the office of South Dakota’s Republican Governor, Kristi Noem, and asked about “the process to add additional presidents” to the monument.
In case you’re curious, there is no such process, because there isn’t enough room left on the rock face to fit another oversized head.
“There is no more carvable space up on the sculpture,” a public information officer at Mount Rushmore, Maureen McGee-Ballinger, told The Argus Leader in 2018.
Mr Trump responded to the story on Twitter, though he said putting his face on Mount Rushmore “sounds like a good idea”, repeating his frequent claim that no other president had accomplished as much as him in their first three-and-a-half years in office.
He also posted a photo of himself in front of Mt Rushmore, presumably in an effort to troll his critics.
This is Fake News by the failing @nytimes & bad ratings @CNN. Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me! https://t.co/EHrA9yUsAw
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2020
The report likely didn’t surprise Ms Noem, who has previously spoken publicly about the time she met Mr Trump in the Oval Office.
“He said, ‘Kristi, come on over here. Shake my hand.’ I shook his hand, and I said, ‘Mr President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore.’ And he goes, ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?’” she said in 2018.
Ms Noem thought the President was joking.
“I started laughing. He wasn’t laughing, so he was totally serious.”
When Mr Trump visited South Dakota for an Independence Day speech in July of this year – which he delivered in front of Mount Rushmore – the Governor presented him with a replica of the monument that included his own face.
Mr Trump spent much of the speech focusing on the protests against police brutality across the country, and the push by some demonstrators to take down Confederate monuments.
“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” he said.
“Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.”
Anyway, the President’s critics obviously didn’t think much of the idea of him being added to Mount Rushmore.
Trump is the last person who would be put on Mt. Rushmore. Let’s say Nixon is second to last. The distance between Nixon and Trump as Rushmore contenders, well, that distance is so long the measure doesn’t exist yet.
— roxane gay (@rgay) August 9, 2020
The thought of putting Donald Trump on Mt. Rushmore is as absurd as …someone wanting to put Donald Trump on Mt. Rushmore.
(Sorry. It’s the only analogy that is as ludicrous as the notion)
— Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) August 9, 2020
When 2 died of Ebola they said Obama should resign.
When 4 died in Benghazi they said Hillary should go to jail.
When 162,000 died from the Trump Virus, they said put him on Mount Rushmore.
— Chip Franklin (@chipfranklin) August 9, 2020
Mr Trump has been occupied with slightly more important things in the last 24 hours, such as tweeting insults at his former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, “a loser” who “made a fool of himself” and then, supposedly, “begged to come back”.
He also signed four executive orders in an effort to help Americans make it through the coronavirus pandemic.
The controversial act, which some have called unconstitutional – Congress, not the President, is technically in charge of spending federal money – came after talks broke down between Republicans and Democrats who were trying to reach a stimulus deal.
Originally published as Bizarre idea to change iconic US landmark