Skip to main content

President Trump To 7-Year-Old: ‘Are You Still A Believer In Santa?’

Photo caption: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak on the phone sharin...

Photo by Jacquelyn Martin AP

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak on the phone sharing updates to track Santa's movements from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve.

Updated at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday:

The setting was perfect. The fire was beautifully ablaze, the trees enormously enormous, as the first couple sat beside dainty telephone tables ready to delight young callers in search of Santa.

But what happened next could be considered less than perfect — especially for a young girl named Collman or her family, who might have had some explaining to do after the brief phone call.

Collman and the president had been connected through NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which on Christmas Eve is tasked with tracking Santa's movements as he delivers gifts around the world. (It is still operating despite the partial government shutdown.)

Since 1955, due to a serendipitous error, NORAD has kept tabs on the big guy in red. And in recent years, some children calling the where's-Santa-now hotline have been treated to a one-on-one conversation with the first lady or leader of the free world, who usually dispense good cheer and happy holiday wishes.

The president's delight in speaking extemporaneously is well know, but it seems to go best when it's in front of large crowds of adult supporters.

A few seconds into the chat with Collman, Trump asked: "You doing well in school? ... What are you going to do for Christmas? ... Are you still a believer in Santa?"

Naturally, the incident was captured on video as well as the moment that followed:

"Because at 7 it's marginal, right?" Trump asked the child.

It's unclear how Collman responded or if she knows the meaning of the word marginal. The girl's side of the conversation was muted. But Trump appeared unfazed by the possibility he may have just told a child that Santa Claus doesn't exist.

After a brief pause, Trump chuckled for a second and said, "Well, you just enjoy yourself."

A 2011 survey by The Associated Press found the average American says they continued to believe in Santa until they were nearly 9 years old.

And as far as parenting tips on how to initiate what could be difficult conversations with children about Santa, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, there's little evidence that they should be introduced by the president.

By the end of the phone call, Trump returned to more traditional conversational fare, telling Collman, "Well, honey, happy Christmas."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.