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Inside politics

Inside Donald Trump’s “palace”

A portrait of the proprietor in Mar-a-Lago. Marc Serota/Getty

Despite reports that Donald Trump is “fuming” after disappointing midterm results, says Jemima Kelly in the FT, when I see him wandering through his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, wearing his usual “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” red cap, he seems “relaxed”. He has lost weight, and he’s “not looking as orange as usual”. He comes over and “does his trademark dance for us: pulling a face, fists pumping side-to-side”. Whatever the commentariat wants to believe, this isn’t “Nixon nursing his wounds in a darkened California bungalow” or “Carter cheerfully embracing post-presidency house chores”. Seeing it up close, one thing about Mar-a-Lago is obvious: “it sustains him”.

After announcing his 2024 presidential bid to “thunderous” applause in one of the resort’s two ballrooms, Trump can be seen sitting happily with family members on the terrace. A velvet rope is erected around the table, and a waiter brings him a Diet Coke on ice. Members tell me he likes to eat in public when he’s here. When I look over, he’s on his iPad picking the songs that blare out over the tables. Memory from the musical Cats is followed by two songs which start and then stop abruptly, before he settles on Heroes by David Bowie. “Why is the music so loud? Is he deaf?” shouts a woman near me. It’s “the first time I’ve heard anyone utter anything other than fawning praise inside Trump’s palace”.