Related stories  WASHINGTON, DC – When President Donald Trump's trade advisers were looking for a strategy last week to prevent his threatened tariffs on China, they came up with a new approach: appeal to his cheers.
To prevent a move that would probably have caused the prices of popular consumer goods to spike, the president's team came to him during a meeting last week with a warning. Applying new duties to all Chinese imports, they warned, could effectively "ruin Christmas," according to people who know the matter.
It was a tactic that worked: Trump announced that tariffs would be delayed until December 15.
It was a back-down in the midst of an astonishing trade war that Trump insists will eventually benefit the Americans – and will show his toughness toward China. And while it caused markets to soar on Tuesday, profits were erased a day later amid new fears of an imminent recession.
As signals grow about a global slowdown – partially fueled by the trade war – Trump and his advisers are increasingly looking for ways to prevent economic fears from reaching Americans before next year's presidential election.
He relies on a team that is often at odds with each other and that has undergone several changes in recent months. Trump is now surrounded less and less by those who guided his administration's economic policies during the first two and a half years as worries about a recession grow into the West Wing.
Trump and his campaign are counting on a robust economy to get him re-elected. Voters who approve of Trump's accomplishments in his work say that # 1 is the reason it's because of the economy.
Re-election on his mind, Trump boasted about the stock market's recent performance during a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday night, claiming that even Americans who dislike him have "no choice but to vote" for him, otherwise the economy will collapse .
"You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401 (k), everything will go down the tubes," he told the crowd. "Whether you love me or hate me, you have to vote for me."
Evolving Economic Team
The importance of the economy to his political future has long been an underlying theme of Trump's discussions with his team, said people familiar with the conversations, even when the composition of that team changes over time.
His financial adviser Larry Kudlow, who is approaching two years on the job, is expected to leave in the coming months. His top economist Kevin Hassett came out with a promise to be "a resource … from the outside." He says complaints from Assistants about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, according to officials.
Trump has even sat down with one of his most loyal cabinet secretaries, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, over stalled trade talks with China, officials said. Mnuchin is dealing with his own emigration to the Treasury Department, with several top assistants leaving in recent months.
Trump has then turned to tougher aides like Peter Navarro, the tough trader and manufacturing advisor, who defends his tough move to China and assures him that there will be an economic recovery.
Trump has shown an affinity for aides with an eye toward the political consequences of economic decisions rather than an in-depth knowledge of economic policy, the people said. He has also become irritated in briefings when the discussion becomes too technical or with weeds.
Mnuchin, who led the funding for Trump's campaign, remains the president's closest economic adviser, according to people familiar with the team's dynamics, even when Trump complains about the lack of progress in trade talks that Mnuchin oversees.
It depends in part on his life in administration, the people said. But Trump also considers his success in the private sector as implicit proof of his economic advice.
When looking for a replacement for Gary Cohn, his first head of the National Economic Council, he was taken by Kudlow, who was a pundit at the time to defend Trump's position on television.
Trump has also praised Navarro for his sometimes combating appearances on television defending tariffs, including this week.
A team sometimes in defeat
Trump spends the week on his Bedminster golf course, but his financial team is scattered elsewhere. Navarro is in Washington while Ross is in New York. Mick Mulvaney, the former budget chief who now serves as chief of staff, joined Trump in New Jersey.
Trump's economic adviser, acting council of economic advisers, Tomas Philipson, has only been in the top role for a few weeks after resigning from Hassett, who often defended the administration's position on television. Hassett's departure was seen as creating a void for those tasked with explaining the White House's economic policy, said an official at the White House.
And Mnuchin has worked from Washington but has remained largely public. He joined in a telephone conversation between Trump and the CEOs of JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup on Wednesday as markets tumbled with the recession.
Instead, Navarro has been the one who defended the administration's position publicly throughout the week. He is a hardliner for China and has often opposed more mainstream views on economic policy in debates within the administration and has clashed with Mnuchin during China's trade talks.
On the airwaves, Navarro has reinforced Trump's position that market fears are the Federal Reserve's fault, which both Trump and Navarro believe do not cut interest rates fast enough.
It is not a view universally held in the West Wing, where many economic aides privately acknowledge the ongoing trade wars are more to blame for current economic conditions. than anything else. But in conversation, most White House officials still cite the Fed as a contributing factor, knowing that it is the president's opinion.
The White House plans to get Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, to appear on certain Sunday morning shows to further explain the administration's position. And Vice President Mike Pence will make remarks at the Detroit Economic Club next week, spelling out the administration's financial positions.
A senior administrative official said that Trump has been in regular contact with members of his financial team – including Kudlow, Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – from his work vacation in New Jersey this week.
While some officials described Trump as disturbed by the new recession that shook the market on Wednesday, others said he did not seem deeply concerned that a downturn could work over the next two years.
Instead, he has been more focused on what such an economic event – or the appearance of an imminent one – might have on his political outlook. He expressed his concern that a deteriorating trade balance could damage the economy and dampen his chances of re-election.
Although Trump's frustration over the markets has mainly been directed at the Federal Reserve, people familiar with the matter say he has also expected the team's mission to negotiate a trade agreement with China to date have failed to strike a deal.
Such a meeting occurred last week because the new tariffs that Trump threatened to levy on China caused riots among dealers. During the meeting, Trump's advisers warned him that the CEO was prepared to vote through the tariffs, which had come into effect in September and would have affected popular Christmas gifts such as mobile phones and electronics.
The advisers appealed to Trump's affinity for the Christmas season, according to known people. Trump has bragged about gathering crowds as he saved the high season from a politically correct "Christmas War." December, when the products in the store shelves for the Christmas shopping season would have already been shipped.
The decision to delay new duties on China came without any remission from Beijing.
Speaking on Fox News on Wednesday, Navarro called the tariff back – from Trump's "Christmas present to the nation."
During the meetings, Trump also expressed hope that the move would move between US and Chinese trade talks, which have been going haywire since his meeting with Xi in June, much to Trump's frustration.  But that doesn't seem to have happened. On Thursday, China threatened to retaliate if the United States issues new $ 300 billion of Chinese manufactured products. A statement from the Ministry of Finance did not mention the delay.
CNN's Pamela Brown contributed to this report.