“Feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers [sic] Neighborhood,” summed up Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp midway through the dueling town halls. To Schlapp’s credit, there was a gauzy softness to the event that might bring to mind the Neighborhood of Make-Believe rather than the usual Trumpian apocalyptic predictions for the suburbs in a post-Trump era where cardigan sweaters are set aflame with reckless abandon.

Still, to various players and operatives in Trumpworld, the president still managed to dramatically improve his public messaging compared to his widely panned (including among his close advisers) performance in the first Trump-Biden debate. Granted, that was setting the bar through the floor.

“He didn’t spend the whole time yelling, he didn’t piss himself… so this was as best as we could have hoped for,” said one Trump campaign adviser. “After the last debate, that is an improvement.”