Stories

Trump's desire to win is shaping his presidency

Chris O'Meara / AP

When President Trump 2.0 emerged this week with a slew of more conventional Republican positions, a big question was: How long will it last? Trump insiders promise this is more than a mood: It's the result of Trump's instinctive desire to win, after a series of dropped balls. A West Wing confidant told Axios:

QuoteWe're seeing the working out of his improvisational personality, based on new and immediate inputs.

Those inputs include both the more moderate advisers who are ascendent, and the new understanding of the world that comes from the Situation Room. "Which is 'America First': currency manipulation, or a bunch of missiles in California [from North Korea]?" a West Wing adviser said. "If I'm going to be 'America First,' I need to be for security."

Trump is restless, and still asks friends for their opinions of his staff. He made it clear to a recent visitor that Steve Bannon on the cover of TIME two months ago still sticks in his craw. Friends say Bannon is stubborn and a survivor, and plans to fight to stay.

The rest of April and May is a critical stretch on Capitol Hill — a chance for Trump's team to resuscitate health reform, keep the government open, pass a budget, and get started on tax reform.

More insights from those close to Trump:

  • "They've got to produce," a Trump friend said.
  • "When you pass a few things, then you've pivoted." added the West Wing adviser.