President Trump criticized those who protest during the national anthem while speaking at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention in Nashville on Jan. 8. (The Washington Post)
ATLANTA — President Trump entered 2018 much as he left 2017: talking to his core supporters about 2016.
To a largely adoring crowd of farmers in Tennessee’s capital, Trump crowed about winning 306 votes in the electoral college, bragged about his accomplishments and cast himself as the leader of a movement restoring respect for the national anthem, the American flag and the forgotten man — and as a politician still very much on the campaign trail.
“Oh, are you happy you voted for me. You are so lucky I gave you that privilege,” Trump said to the Nashville crowd, in an unusual explanation of public service.
Back in Washington, Trump’s White House has faced damaging revelations from a new tell-all book that paints the president and his administration in a deeply unflattering light. He is dealing with news that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III may want to interview him. His White House is grappling with the recriminations of a nasty split with former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon after his comments slamming the Trump children and the president. Trump’s poll numbers remain below 40 percent in most surveys.
On Air Force One over Kentucky, Trump spokesman Hogan Gidley parried a number of uncomfortable questions: Would the president sit for a psychiatric exam during his physical next week? No. He is “sharp as a tack,” Gidley said. “And brilliant.”
Was Trump growing lazy and watching television until 11 a.m., as the website Axios reported Sunday night, while deeming it “executive time?” Gidley said that the question was “ludicrous” and that the president has a “yeoman” work ethic.
Asked about claims by CNN officials that senior Trump aide Stephen Miller was escorted out of their set Sunday after a contentious on-screen exchange with host Jake Tapper, Gidley said, “He left on his own will.”
The spokesman did not offer a response when asked if the president would sit down with Mueller for an interview, a possibility reported by NBC News and others.
Gidley seemed sure of one thing: Trump was “absolutely” running for reelection. And he was going to win, even if Oprah Winfrey entered the race.
The day seemed part base-boosting and part pleasure for…