President Donald Trump’s communications staff, facing the prospect of having to spin a largely win-less first 100 days in office, is grappling with how to tout the new President’s first months on the job.
Communications director Mike Dubke called a meeting last week to strategize about how the White House will convince reporters — and by extension, the country — that the President has been an effective leader and scored a series of victories.
The key question in the meeting, first reported by Politico was, “How are you going to brand it?” one attendee said, referring to Trump’s first 100 days.
The meeting, which multiple sources familiar said was part of what any competent communications shop would do ahead of a major milestone, was an attempt by Dubke and others at a collaborative effort to plan the coming weeks of communications.
The team rolled out whiteboards and large sheets of white paper to jot down ideas and allowed everyone on the staff to chime in about what accomplishments they believe the administration should tout.
The first 100-day hallmark of a presidency is a journalistic invention where the success — or lack thereof — of an administration is judged based on what they were able to accomplish when their political power is at its highest.
The idea dates back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used the first 100 days to launch his New Deal, a sweeping plan of 15 bills to jump start the lagging economy.
Since then, past presidents have been judged on the success of their first 100 days. Former President Barack Obama used the time to pass the $787 billion economic stimulus package and to expand children’s health insurance coverage.
Trump’s first 100 days has lacked sweeping victories and has been most defined by the stinging legislative defeat thrust upon the White House when Republicans failed to rally support around their plan to repeal and replace the health care plan passed by Obama.
And it has been clear that framing the first 100 days has been top of mind for administration officials.
On Monday, Trump touted what will likely be considered his biggest victory thus far: Confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
“I got it done in the first 100 days,” Trump said during a Rose Garden ceremony. “That’s even nice. You think that’s easy?”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer teased the 100 days messaging Monday when — unprompted — he began to sell Trump’s accomplishments.
“As we hit day 81 in the President’s administration, we have done so many great things, including nominate and confirm a Supreme Court justice, roll back more regulations than any president in modern times, roll back the Obama-era war on coal, oil and natural gas, restored confidence in the economy,” Spicer said.
He added: “We’re now seeing historic levels of consumer, CEO, homebuilder, manufacturer confidence. There’s been a 12% gain on the stock market. And we’ve even seen a real resurgence in the mining industry.”