Trump Follows Familiar Playbook When Confronted by a Loss: Distract and Digress

Mr. Trump did say he had spoken to her, just not this year. He then added that Ms. Coulter, whom he unfollowed on Twitter in December, after months of criticism, “is off the reservation.”

“Anybody that knows her understands that,” he continued. “I haven’t spoken to her. I don’t follow her.”

Mr. Trump’s own advisers have admitted that the White House lost the public relations war surrounding the 35-day partial government shutdown, but he insisted that he had, in fact, won the messaging battle. He cited a 52 percent approval rating in a recent Rasmussen poll as an example that “people get what we are doing,” even though it was an outlier from other polls, in which he averages 40.8 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics website.

“They really get it and I’m honored by it,” he added.

Mr. Trump said President Barack Obama “told me he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea.” And he said that Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, had nominated him for a Nobel Prize, although he admitted, “I’ll probably never get it but that’s O.K.”

He called on his favorite “fake news” nemesis, Jim Acosta, CNN’s White House correspondent, who pressed the president on his claim that there is a security crisis at the southern border, despite the fact that illegal border crossings have fallen in recent years, and asked him to respond to critics who said he had “concocted” an emergency.

In response, Mr. Trump pointed to the “angel moms,” as conservatives call the mothers of children who were killed by undocumented immigrants, in the front row.

“I ask the angel moms, what do you think? Do you think I’m creating something? Ask these incredible women who lost their daughters and their sons,” Mr. Trump said.