Nearly a year into the Trump presidency, top aides and allies feel good about their direction and achievements, crediting the president’s “stamina” and “100 percent energy” to fight past critics, especially the media.
“If media coverage was fair, unbiased, down the the middle, there would be 100 stories about the unstoppable momentum and energy of the Oval Office,” said senior adviser Stephen Miller.
“The critics did the very same thing with Ronald Reagan,” added Christopher Ruddy, the president of Newsmax and a Trump ally. “And Donald Trump is 100 times more engaged than Ronald Reagan.”
Allies have felt the need to push back on stories suggesting that Trump is a part-time president, even though the media has documented his 6 a.m. tweets and 1 a.m. phone calls to aides.
For example, instead of noting that he took no time off after an arduous 12-day trip to Asia and delivered a report card live to public, the media poked fun at his fumbling for a water bottle during the speech. And his ex-wife Ivana fanned the flames when she said, “I think he must be freaking exhausted. I would be too.”
Aides and allies tell a different story.
White House chief of staff John Kelly expressed surprise that Trump wanted to talk about the Asia trip immediately after getting home. “After a 12-day trip to Asia, I encouraged the president to take a day off and recover. The president wouldn’t hear of it. He insisted he wanted to report back to the American people on his trip to Asia,” he said.
“Despite a huge time change and demanding schedule, the president spent the day working on and delivering a speech,” Kelly added.
Ruddy, a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, has known the president a long time and said he has taken his corporate motto of outworking the other guy into the White House.
“I think the guy has bionic genes, I’ve never seen a guy with so much energy and I know he’s working until late at night and making phone calls very early in the morning. He’s on the go all the time,” Ruddy said.
“People don’t realize how engaged this president really is. He’s involved,” he added.
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It’s been noticed on Capitol Hill, especially among the lawmakers Trump calls several times a day.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday said that she has held several meetings with the president to discuss the ongoing tax reform debate and added that he has adopted some of her ideas. Speaking at a media breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, she added that the process to win support for the tax reform bill has been much different — and better -- than the bid to repeal Obamacare. "So much more outreach. It's just night and day," Collins said.
Trump, said Sergio Gor, spokesman for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, “is one of the most energetic and engaging individuals in Washington. Believe me, there are plenty of low energy elected officials, President Trump is not one of them.”
Top aide Miller has a special perspective, having worked on Capitol Hill and then on the Trump campaign, always with the candidate on “Trump Force One,” Trump’s private jet that hit several cities a day near the end of the 2016 contest.
He recalled one stop in Redding, Calif., where it was so hot that staff hid under a tent and supporters were fainting. There, Trump spoke for an hour and then spent 30 minutes more meeting with first responders and ground support.
“I’ve never seen anybody work harder, put effort into anything in my entire life,” Miller told Secrets, checking off achievements including slashing regulations, strangling ISIS, braking illegal immigration and working toward an historic win on tax reform and job creation.
Miller said the president has kept up the campaign pace inside the White House.
“If you get a call from the president it is not at all unusual that you get the call before you’ve even gotten up for the day. And you could be getting a call from him long after you’ve finished your work for the night. So he’s the first one working in the morning and the last one in the evening,” Miller said.
Papers dropped off at the White House residence at night, he added, are often delivered back the next morning with notes and comments written in by the president.
What’s more, Trump often demands that staff add time for him to speak at simple meet-and-greets, felling if people made the time to come to a White House meeting, he should respect them with his time.
“His whole ethos is about success is just outworking your opponents and your opposition, and that was always something that is part of the Donald Trump manta, the Donald Trump ethos, part of the whole American success story,” he said.
And it’s impacted staff.
Cabinet secretaries say they feel compelled to work overtime pushing the president’s agenda, be it tax reform or cutting regulations.
“They will be held accountable if they don’t deliver,” said Miller, adding, “That’s a great example of how that energy and stamina at the top filters all the way down through and shakes the rust off of Washington and turns this White House into a lean, highly motivated machine of getting things done.”
But so far they aren’t getting much credit and some see the media as the reason.
“Unfortunately, we live in the era of hyper advocacy journalism and a lot of outlets that have branded themselves for a very long time as being impartial are in fact the worst offenders in the field of hyper advocacy journalism. And that’s just the plain truth,” Miller said.
‘The tone of sarcasm or even the tone of derision, and you just think to yourself how out of touch the group of people that talk about these issues are from the people who are most affected by them,” he added.
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Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org