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Trump To Watch Election Results Come In At The White House


In campaigning for Republican candidates around the country ahead of today's elections, President Trump has made it clear that even though he's not technically on the ballot, he is on the ballot. These elections are considered a referendum on Trump's first two years in office. And historically, that does not bode well for the president's party. But Trump remains bullish, publicly at least.

NPR's Ayesha Rascoe is at the White House now and she joins us. Hey, Ayesha.


CHANG: So the president seems to be laying kind of low today, yeah?

RASCOE: Yeah, so he's been keeping a lower profile, especially for him. He had no public events today. He's been out of sight. But there have been a few tweets. Nothing out of the ordinary. He's basically boosting certain candidates and sending out these last-minute appeals for votes.

The White House says the president will be at the residence tonight, watching the results come in with family and friends. And some of the supporters joining the president include a few of his longtime evangelical backers, like Pastor Paula White and Pastor Darrell Scott.

CHANG: Do you have any sense yet of what the mood has been like at the White House?

RASCOE: Right now, a lot of it is just wait-and-see.

CHANG: Yeah.

RASCOE: The staff is here, and they're watching to see what happens like everyone else. Now, a senior official did say that President Trump is feeling good and that he feels that he left everything on the field. In an interview last night with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Trump sounded fairly optimistic.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I feel good about the House. I feel really good about the Senate. But you never know what happens. I mean, we're going to have to see tomorrow. I can see that there is an electricity in the air.

RASCOE: But as you can kind of tell from that answer, it sounds like he's more confident about the Senate than he is about the House.

CHANG: As seen with a lot of other Republicans, yes?

RASCOE: Yes, and so the White House officials are stressing that presidents normally lose seats, especially in the House, during midterms. And that's the trend that Trump is attempting to break.

CHANG: So the reporter in that interview we just heard also asked President Trump if he had any regrets, right? How did Trump respond to that?

RASCOE: Yes, he was asked about his regrets. And normally he answers questions like that by not really answering or saying that he regrets how the media has treated him. But this time, he actually had an answer about what he could do differently.


TRUMP: Well, there would be certain things - I'm not sure I want to reveal all of them. But I would say tone - I would like to have a much softer tone. I feel, to a certain extent, I have no choice. But maybe I do, and maybe I could have been softer from that standpoint.


RASCOE: Yeah, it's...

CHANG: (Laughter).

RASCOE: It's surprising.

CHANG: Yeah, yeah it is.


RASCOE: It's one of the only times I've ever Trump really reflect on how he speaks and the language that he uses. He kind of has this rule that he never apologizes or expresses regrets.

CHANG: Right.

RASCOE: Now, later on in the interview, he did say he feels - has - that he has no choice about his tone and that - and that's usually his argument, that he has to fight back. But he's - and he said that if he takes a softer tone, he might be, quote, "swamped" by the other side, meaning Democrats and his critics.

CHANG: OK. So what is next for the president? I mean, after all the dust settles from election night, what - will we be seeing him tomorrow?

RASCOE: A lot will depend on what happens tonight. So the White House is not saying whether we're going to see the president tomorrow and whether there will be a press conference. It's possible, but it depends on how everything goes. I would imagine if things go really well for the Republicans, the president might have a lot to say.

But either way, he's not going to be able to stay out of the public eye for long. He has a big trip to Paris later this week commemorating the anniversary of the end of World War I, where he will almost certainly have to answer questions and make statements.

And once the election results are in, there's going to be a lot of focus on whether - on who goes and who stays in the administration over the coming months and what type of shake-up there will be. And that's going to be a question kind of regardless of how things turn out tonight. But especially if things go badly, people are going to be looking to see who's going to be on the outs in this administration.

CHANG: More drama maybe to come. That's NPR's Ayesha Rascoe. Thanks, Ayesha.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.