Carolyn Kaster / AP

Top Republicans tell us they're as rattled as ever by President Trump and his White House — and want an intervention. Their gravest long-term concern (beyond the Russia scandal): Trump's devil-may-care effort to run the free world in the same improvisational, family-focused style that worked so well with for his campaign and business.

  • Candidate Trump, with hardly any staff and prep, was agile and authentic. Key Republicans think President Trump, with hardly any staff and prep, seems small or lost. A strategist who works closely with the administration said: "The entire West Wing staff sat in an unplanned press conference in the middle of a Thursday. Every time I turn on cable news, I see literally everybody from the chief of staff on down sitting in the president's press events like interns trying to get into the background of a photo shoot."
  • Candidate Trump electrified crowds and inoculated himself from criticism by blaming the "dishonest" media for every mishap. President Trump seems a little unhinged tweeting his mornings away and whining about "fake news" as his legislative priorities flounder. "These guys have a golden opportunity to make massive change, and they're squandering it with all this silliness," said one of Washington's top lobbyists. "Because at the end of the day, it's all about him."
  • Candidate Trump stoked his base with relentless attacks on establishment Republicans like John McCain. Now, the McCains of the world have the power to strike back, rhetorically and substantively. It's no secret Trump has very few authentic admirers among Senate Republicans. This could bite him badly when it comes to the Flynn/Russia investigation.
  • But, but, but ... Like the campaign, Trump has zero interest in changing any of this and firmly believes he's off to a strong, if not stellar, start.

Parallel Universe: winning bigly ... To Trump, this will feel laughably familiar to the Republican establishment whining when he announced, when he won the nomination, when he stumbled in debates, when he surely couldn't win the presidency. He truly believes this had been the best start to a presidency in history, and no one around would ever disagree to his face.

  • The stock market is soaring: You need to go back to LBJ to see a spike like during the first month in office.
  • His polls looks good, some even great, to his eyes. Drudge had Rasmussen's 55 percent approval rating leading his site yesterday, and several other polls showed Trump near 50. Even the worst polls — Pew has him at 39 — show his support with Republican exceeds Reagan or the Bushes.
  • And he can still sell out The Show. Every network cut in to show his press-bashing press conference, and Floridians will pack an airport hangar in Melbourne with Trump-loving Saturday for his first post-inaguration rally — 1,354 days before the 2020 election.

Why this matters: Why do you think? He won't change.

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Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

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