Every president has a favorite president, and President Trump, it appears, has chosen Andrew Jackson.
In a major interview from the West Wing, Trump pointed to a painting of Jackson he had hung on the wall. During one of his first trips outside of Washington, D.C., as president, he visited Jackson’s home in Nashville. And this week Trump heaped praise on Jackson to the extent that he publicly wondered whether the nation’s 7th president could have prevented the American Civil War — if only he had not died 16 years before the first shots at Fort Sumter.
“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” he told The Examiner. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War; he said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’”
It’s easy to see how Trump sees some of himself in Jackson. Their campaign messages were similar: They said they wanted to boost the common man that the country’s elites had left behind. When Jackson was elected in 1828, he was seen as brash and politically divisive. At the time, many of the country’s economic elite wondered if he could do the job.
And, like Trump, no one had ever seen a presidency like Jackson’s. Previous White House occupants hailed from established East Coast families. Jackson was a westerner and a self-made man. He famously invited to his inauguration party at the White House anyone who wanted (the party turned into a wild ruckus).
There are darker similarities as well. Both presidents have singled out groups of people as unfit to stay in the United States. Trump called for a travel ban from some predominantly Muslim countries, and Jackson implemented the so-called Trail of Tears that forced Native Americans to move from Southeastern states to Oklahoma.
There is one big question looming as to whether Trump will continue to follow in Jackson’s footsteps. During his presidency, Jackson vetoed the recharter bill for the Bank of the United States, saying it didn’t help the little guy. This week Trump said he wants to break up big banks, but his top economic advisers and Treasury secretary come directly from Goldman Sachs.
We’ll see if Trump follows Jackson’s lead on that.James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics:http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp