But Mr. Trump’s supporters cheered him on, embracing a leader they said was finally taking on the cosseted elites and guarding the country against outsiders. Advisers to the president said his foes take his campaign rally language too literally; as outrageous as it might seem, it is more entertainment, intended to generate a crowd reaction.
“The challenge for Republicans in a midterm election when you control everything is a lot of your voters are complacent,” said Marc Short, a former White House legislative director under Mr. Trump. “Trump has the challenge of how do I get my people who maybe don’t love Republicans in Congress to turn out. There’s evidence to show that he’s making progress in that.”
Asked by reporters on Monday if the elections were turning as much on his style of leadership as anything else, the president said, “I don’t think so, but, I mean, I’m willing to accept that.”
He made no effort to distance himself from the harshness of his campaign, including an advertisement it produced that was deemed racist and was ultimately rejected by several networks, including his favorite, Fox News, as too offensive to air. “A lot of things are offensive,” Mr. Trump said. “Your questions are offensive a lot of times.”
In an interview released later in the day, however, Mr. Trump expressed some regret for the tenor of his two years in office. “I would like to have a much softer tone,” he told Sinclair Broadcasting, attributing his no-holds-barred style to a desire to get things done.
He suggested he could change after the midterm. “I would love to get along, and I think after the election, a lot of things can happen,” he said. “But right now they are in their mode and we are in our mode. And you know, if you’re criticized, you have to hit back, or you should.”