Stephen King compares Trump to a drunk ‘senile uncle’ over weird shark rant

Former president bewilders with wild hypothetical about an electric boat’s battery failing in dangerous waters

Joe Sommerlad
Tuesday 11 June 2024 17:33
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Donald Trump rants about not wanting to be eaten by sharks at an Iowa caucus event in October 2023

Donald Trump’s rambling anecdote about electric boats and sharks at his recent Las Vegas rally has been likened to “listening to your senile uncle at the dinner table after he has that third drink” by the horror novelist Stephen King.

The best-selling writer, a frequent Trump troll on X, was responding to a clip of the Republican presidential contender speaking off-the-cuff in the sweltering heat of Nevada on Sunday.

Having already complained bitterly to the crowd about a malfunctioning teleprompter, Trump launched into an extraordinary riff that left even his closest observers scratching their heads in bafflement.

He began by complaining that “they,” meaning shadowy officials from the Biden administration, were ordering boat manufacturers to adopt electric batteries for environmental reasons, before recounting a possibly-fictitious encounter with a South Carolina shipwright who told him: “It’s a problem, sir. They want us to make all-electric boats.

“The problem is the boat is so heavy it can’t float. Also, it can’t go fast because of the weight.”

Trump continued: “So I said, ‘Let me ask you a question,’ and [the official] said, ‘Nobody ever asked this question,’ and it must be because of MIT, my relationship to MIT – very smart.

“I say, ‘What would happen if the boat sank from its weight? And you’re in the boat and you have this tremendously powerful battery and the battery is now underwater and there’s a shark that’s approximately 10 yards over there?’”

At this point, the former president broke off at a tangent, asking: “By the way, a lot of shark attacks lately, do you notice that, a lot of sharks?”

Former US president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on stage at his campaign rally at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 9 2024
Former US president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on stage at his campaign rally at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 9 2024 (AFP/Getty)

Eventually reverting to his original point, Trump continued: “So I said, so there’s a shark 10 yards away from the boat, 10 yards or here, do I get electrocuted if the boat is sinking? Water goes over the battery, the boat is sinking. Do I stay on top of the boat and get electrocuted, or do I jump over by the shark and not get electrocuted?

“I will tell you, he didn’t know the answer. He said, ‘You know, nobody’s ever asked me that question.’

“I said, ‘I think it’s a good question.’ I think there’s a lot of electric current coming through that water. But you know what I’d do if there was a shark or you get electrocuted, I’ll take electrocution every single time. I’m not getting near the shark. So we’re going to end that.”

An astonishingly meandering approach to attacking a government renewable energy policy, Trump’s “relationship” with MIT is that his uncle, Professor John Trump, taught there between 1936 and 1973 and his claim that a boater would be electrocuted in the scenario he outlines is simply incorrect.

Like King, late-night host Seth Meyers also reacted with amazement to the segment, likening Trump’s proposition to a problem found in a school textbook (“Math For Dummies by Dummies”) and laughing at the boat manufacturer saying they had never been asked the question before.

“There’s a reason for that,” Meyers joked during his Monday night opening monologue. “Imagine if he said, ‘You know that’s good, I get this all the time. Giant battery? Shark ten yards away? Sure, sure, sure…’”

Donald Trump proclaims: 'I’m not a big fan of sharks’

This is by no means the first time Trump has let his horror of sharks interfere with his thinking.

Stormy Daniels has previously recounted the Republican’s fascination with the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week programing, reporting that she went to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles in July 2007 only to find him so absorbed in a documentary that he failed to notice her arrival.

On July 4, 2013, he issued two unforgettable tweets, the first of which read: “Sorry folks, I’m just not a fan of sharks – and don’t worry, they will be around long after we are gone.”

Two minutes later, he followed it up with: “Sharks are last on my list – other than perhaps the losers and haters of the world!”

The creatures were also on his mind at a Pennsylvania campaign rally in August 2020 at which he scoffed at the idea of protecting the species and confessed to his supporters: “I’m not a big fan of sharks.”

More recently, in October 2023, he delivered another version of his electrocution/shark attack hypothetical at an Iowa caucus event, declaring: “So I have a choice of electrocution or shark? You know what I’m going to take? I will take electrocution every single time. Do we agree?” The crowd politely agreed.

It can be no accident, incidentally, that the tagline for that cinematic masterpiece Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, released in the first year of Trump’s presidency, parodied his famous campaign slogan: “Make America Bait Again.”

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