Aug 5, 2018

The TiVo presidency: Trump relives Trump

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Like an NFL coach reviewing game film, President Trump likes to watch replays of his debate and rally performances. But instead of looking for weaknesses in technique or for places to improve, Trump luxuriates in the moments he believes are evidence of his brilliance.

Behind the scenes: Trump commentates as he watches, according to sources who've sat with him and viewed replays on his TiVo, which is pre-loaded with his favorites on the large TV in the private dining room adjoining the Oval Office. When watching replays, Trump will interject commentary, reveling in his most controversial lines. "Wait for it. ... See what I did there?" he'll say.

  • "People think it's easy," Trump said in one riff about rally footage, per a source with direct knowledge. "I've been doing this a long time now and people are used to it, every rally, it's like, people have said P.T. Barnum. People have said that before. And they think that's easy, because hey, P.T. Barnum, he does the circus. ... They don't realize, it's a lot of work. It's not easy."

In the early weeks of the administration, Trump loved to relive his debate performances against Hillary Clinton. His favorite, according to sources with direct knowledge, was the St. Louis debate after the Access Hollywood tape leaked, when the Trump team invited Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct accusers as their guests in the live audience.

  • Trump used to enjoy rewatching the moment in that debate when Clinton observed, "It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country."
  • "Because," Trump replied, "you'd be in jail."

A source who's discussed the moment with Trump told me, "He thinks it's the greatest thing that ever happened in the history of presidential debates."

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