Susan Walsh / AP

We wrote yesterday what the president SHOULD do in his address to Congress next Tuesday, and got hit with calls and emails from top White House officials about what Trump WILL do.

The news: Officials swear the speech, written by Stephen Miller and others with heavy input from POTUS, is decidedly more upbeat than his inaugural address — "optimistic and uplifting."

A top adviser said: "President Trump is determined to capture the sunny optimism of Reagan to temper the populist anger reflected in his core policies."

While aides dispute that Trump's inaugural address was dark in tone and substance, they concede it was viewed that way by all but true believers. For the Joint Session address, they are self-consciously trying to strike a happier tone for a broader audience, with lots of emphasis on what has been done to date — and what can be done in Congress this year (health care, tax reform and a new partial wall on Mexican border).

But, but, but ... We heard this same spin before his inaugural, and Trump's mostly red-meat campaign rally was supposed to be a message of "unity." So let's see if it's Charlie Brown and the football — or a real shift, even for one night.

  • Sound smart: They won't say it publicly, but Trump officials are actually TRYING to be normal. They feel good about their pushback against the Russia scandal, the pick for national-security adviser winning rave reviews from Rs and Ds, yesterday's shockingly ordinary tour of the National Museum of African American History.

In private, West Wing aides say the media should cut them slack, given this is a non-politician staffed by a lot of people new to Washington politics.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Trump administration cuts refugee cap to new record low

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration plans to only admit a maximum of 15,000 refugees this fiscal year, the State Department said in a release late Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: This is yet another record low refugee cap. Before leaving office, President Obama set the refugee limit at 110,000 for fiscal year 2017 — a number Trump has continued to slash throughout his presidency.

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 34,018,143 — Total deaths: 1,014,995 — Total recoveries: 23,674,533Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 7,234,327 — Total deaths: 206,963 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Health: New poll shows alarming coronavirus vaccine skepticism — New research centers will study "long-haul" COVID — Coronavirus infections rise in 25 states.
  4. Business: Remdesivir is good business for Gilead.
  5. Retail: The holiday shopping season will now begin in October.
  6. 🎧Podcast: The looming second wave of airline layoffs.
Kendall Baker, author of Sports
41 mins ago - Sports

Barstool jumps into sports betting

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Barstool Sports was founded in 2003 as a free gambling newspaper. It later became a sports blog before growing into a media empire, and now things have come full circle with the recent launch of its own branded sportsbook.

Driving the news: The Barstool Sportsbook app saw a record 21,000 downloads per day during its first weekend (Sept. 18–20), breaking DraftKings' and Fanduel's daily records despite Pennsylvania being the only state where it was operational.