What is Trump's second-term agenda? He can't say


Instead, Trump made vague references to “experience” during his answer during a Fox News event without listing policy items he hopes to see enacted or problems he’d like to resolve.

The answer encapsulated what some of Trump’s political advisers fear is an unfocused approach to reelection a little more than four months before ballots are cast. They hope he will begin using his platform to define rival Joe Biden and articulate his argument for being reelected.

But presented the chance Thursday — host Sean Hannity asked Trump to name his “top priority items for a second term” — Trump became distracted with old grievances and never ultimately named a single goal.

“One of the things that will be really great — the word experience is still good, I always say talent is more important than experience, I’ve always said that — but the word experience is a very important word, a very important meaning,” Trump said.

The President noted that in his life as a New York developer he rarely visited Washington, and didn’t know many of the city’s players.

“Now I know everybody,” he said. “And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, like an idiot like (former national security adviser John) Bolton, all he wanted to do was drop bombs on everybody, you don’t have to drop bombs on everybody, you don’t have to kill people.”

From there, Trump launched into an extended attack on Bolton, never returning to the theme of his second term. Later, Hannity again raised the notion of a second term, only to have Trump respond with criticism of the “planeloads of cash” he alleged were sent to Iran by the Obama administration.

Elsewhere in the town hall, Trump seemed to refer to a Biden presidency as inevitable — even as he insisted his rival would “destroy our country.”

“I mean, the man can’t speak,” Trump said. “And he’s going to be your president because some people don’t love me, maybe.”

The responses seemed to suggest Trump is less-than-convinced he will defeat Biden in November, or at least has thought little about how he might govern if given another four years in office.

In some ways, Trump’s approach mimics the way he ran his first campaign, which few expected him to win. In that race, Trump ran on divisive rhetoric and a vague plan to “Make America Great Again” without laying out a clear governing agenda for a potential presidency.

Once he took office, Trump’s agenda came into sharper focus yet often still appears ad-hoc. His efforts to protect national monuments and statues have been an example of the President responding quickly to national events that appear to match his political motives — even as the surging coronavirus pandemic exposes his unwillingness to develop governing plans for less convenient matters.
This week, some people who have spoken to the President recently say he seems aimless as coronavirus cases surge and as a national racial reckoning reaches entities from NASCAR to Disney. Instead of engaging on those matters, Trump has retrenched into the very conduct many believe is the root of his current political predicament.

Some of Trump’s advisers are growing worried that his inability to moderate his behavior is eroding support among voting blocs he won handily in 2016. While Trump has recognized his political woes, aides said he hasn’t internalized the reasons behind them or shown a willingness to move away from divisive and racist rhetoric.

Consumed with what he views as unfair coverage of his administration, Trump hasn’t articulated a new plan to contain the spreading virus and last spoke to his top public health advisers weeks ago, those advisers said this week. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, last spoke with Trump three weeks ago. Trump tweeted a swipe at Fauci this week, citing his high approval ratings.

When the White House coronavirus task force convenes its first public briefing in nearly two months on Friday, it won’t be from the White House podium.

Instead, the group will update the media from the Department of Health and Human Services, a move that puts symbolic distance between Trump and a recent surge in cases and sends the signal the President is still trying to move on.