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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

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.