Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Jim Lo Scalzo / AP

In the first restrained — dare we say conventional — speech of his lifetime, Donald Trump delighted Republicans, disarmed critics (at least for a night) and left anyone who doesn't waste their day on Twitter with the impression of quick accomplishments and big, easily doable things ahead.

Bloomberg View calls it "Trump's teleprompter triumph."

  • The strategy: It was a savvy, unexpectedly deft clean-up of everything from the botched travel ban to his delays in confronting race- or religious-based violence. Most of the speech could have been delivered by Paul Ryan (who tweeted that it was "a home run"). It buys Trump a lot of wiggle room in the months ahead — and that was the strategic aim of the speech.
  • Why it matters: Wobbly Republicans, many of whom were and remain deeply suspicious of the president, now have something normal, possibly popular to grab hold of. Success - or the appearance of success - in politics washes away many sins.

With Trump officials basking in the reviews, the White House told reporters that the new executive order on migrant travel — scheduled for release today — was being delayed.

  • The reasoning: "We want the EO to have its own 'moment,'" a senior administration official told CNN's Jeremy Diamond. The official didn't say positive reviews were the only reason for delay — but didn't deny it was part of the calculus.

The pundits rolled over for a big ole belly scratch: Flipping around the networks' postgame coverage, the praise was almost completely unleavened by reality checks about Trump's track record or the minefields awaiting his agenda. I suddenly realized the incredible honeymoon Trump could have had if had played his cards even slightly differently.

  • CNN's Van Jones, former green jobs adviser to President Obama: "He did something tonight that you cannot take away from him: He became president of the United States."
  • Savannah Guthrie: "loose and conversational."
  • Nicolle Wallace on NBC: "the best speech of his political career -- his short political career. ... It felt like an intervention had taken place."
  • ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "The president has broken the mold in so many ways [but this was] quite a traditional structure."
  • CBS's John Dickerson: "using all the rhetorical and symbolic tools at his disposal."

The big question: Will the tone and the aura last? Even a full day? Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. What will Trump give up?

But don't forget: Trump has proven to be a recidivist in the past. One close Trump-watcher warned us that last night's Reaganesque statesman is the same man: "He is a performer and his director(s) told him he is playing a different character tonight. It worked."

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

3 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
7 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.