White House aides explain the two key issues Trump uses as his 'safety blanket' when he 'feels he has lost control of the narrative'

Whether or not President Donald Trump is reelected in 2020 will have a lot to do with how effectively he rallies his base. Trump is wildly unpopular in heavily Democratic areas, but he still knows how to excite and fire up his hardcore supporters. And journalist Elaina Plott, in a report for the Atlantic, stresses that when the president is feeling overwhelmed, he inevitably falls back on two key issues, immigration and trade policy, as a way of exciting his supporters.


Trump, Plott explains, has a “preferred method of relief in moments of crisis” — and that is emphasizing immigration and trade. Plott reports that according to current and former White House aides (who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity), Trump typically falls back on immigration and trade when he “feels he has lost control of the narrative.”

One senior campaign adviser told Plott, “Whenever a negative story comes around, his instinct is to pivot to immigration or trade. It’s kind of like his safety blanket. He knows that Fox and conservative media will immediately coalesce and change what the base is talking about.”

Plott cites recent headlines surrounding former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report for the Russia investigation as an example of something that inspired Trump to fall back on trade and immigration policies: when Mueller was in the headlines in recent weeks, Trump responded by discussing U.S./Mexico border security or tariffs.

That senior campaign advisor told Plott that after Mueller spoke publicly on May 29, Trump was stressed out by all the media attention Mueller’s speech received — and the following day, the president was talking about tariffs.

“Mueller controlled the news cycle,” the anonymous source told Plott. “It was 24/7 the last couple of days, and that’s what bothers him.”

Another source told Plott that Trump considers immigration and trade winning issues for him during moments of chaos because they set him apart from both the GOP establishment and the Democratic establishment.

“These are issues that the establishment on both sides hates Trump for,” the source explained to Plott. “So, he understands that no matter what’s going on, people are going to care about them.”

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