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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

It drives the media, Democrats and more than half of America mad, but President Trump's unorthodox, jam-your-opponent style can be effective.

What he's done: He erased NAFTA, as a word, and replaced the trade pact with a different name (the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA) and better terms for America. Sure, he infuriated Canada and Justin Trudeau, but he delivered the goods. (And helped some farm-state candidates just before midterms.)

  • His tax cut, jammed through last year, continues to juice a red hot economy that has consumers confident, stocks soaring, joblessness sinking. 
  • His wild, improvisational press conferences and rallies still grab massive audiences — and drive the media conversation. 
  • And his no retreat, no surrender approach has helped Brett Kavanaugh survive brutal hearings, and put the conservative judge on the cusp of a lifetime Supreme Court seat.

The White House says it's as simple as Trump sticking to, and delivering, what he promised — defying low expectations amid chaos and distractions.

A veteran Democratic presidential adviser said that the Trump formula is taking a clear position and driving toward it — making sure everyone knows where he stands, and only focusing on one or two policy goals at a time.

  • The adviser pointed to the cap on deductibility of state and local taxes — included in Trump's tax-reform plan — as an enviable achievement.
  • "Presidents going back to Ronald Reagan have tried to do this," the Democrat said. "He had the determination and skill to get it done. Clinton didn't. Obama didn't."

After his surprise NAFTA win, Trump was sunny at the White House yesterday, and preened at a rally in Tennessee last night about his dominance in news coverage:

  • "You know what it’s called? Earned media," he said. "And I earned it."

With midterms 35 days away, there’s some evidence that Trump's recent campaign to make this election about his favorite topic — him — plus the court fight has Rs more energized than at any point this year.

  • Polling has swung sharply against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), with analysts pointing to Kavanaugh's popularity in the state as a factor.
  • Trump's message and travel have greatly strengthened Republican Senate challengers in Missouri, Montana and West Virginia.
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Go deeper

Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Getty Images

The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday in an attempt to block the enforcement of its vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Why it matters: The move comes one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) request to exempt the state's National Guard from the mandate.

Congress passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate voted 69-28 to pass legislation Thursday night to fund the government until February 18.

Why it matters: The move staves off a government shutdown but lawmakers still have a busy month ahead: Congress needs to work out a deal to raise the debt ceiling in a few weeks and Democrats are trying to pass their behemoth social spending bill.

DiDi to delist from NYSE under Chinese govt pressure

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese ride-hail giant DiDi said it will delist from the New York Stock Exchange, following a Chinese government crackdown on foreign listings.

Why it matters: This reflects how geopolitical tensions are bleeding into the capital markets.