Donald Trump 'obsessed with his own self-image', visiting senior Republican says

Donald Trump 'obsessed with his own self-image', visiting senior Republican says

Donald Trump 'obsessed with his own self-image', visiting senior Republican says

Updated 7 August 2017, 13:20 AEST

A senior US Republican visiting Australia for diplomatic talks says President Donald Trump is struggling with the limitations of a job he never expected to get.

A prominent US Republican says President Donald Trump is struggling with the limitations of a job he never expected to get.

Michael Steele, a former chairman of the powerful Republican National Committee, told ABC News Mr Trump was still grappling with the transition from colourful businessman and reality-TV star to Commander in Chief.

"Not everyone listens to you just because you're president," Mr Steele said.

"He's got to deal with that and he doesn't quite yet know how to do that."

Mr Steele said presidents do not have as much power as they might have expected.

"You have 535 members of Congress who have a different view. You have cabinet secretaries who, while they might work for you, still carry out different agendas," he said.

"You've got the voters, the press and all those other interests out there who have a say about what you just said, and that's not something Donald deals with too well."

Mr Steele's assessment comes as Mr Trump faces criticism for taking a 17-day trip to his New Jersey golf club resort, and as a widely circulated Newsweek magazine cover ridicules the President's work ethic.

The former Republican Party chief said Mr Trump had spent a lifetime running his own race.

"When he said he wanted something done at Trump Tower, it got done," Mr Steele said.

"No-one said, 'No sir, I really don't think we should do that', because if you did you didn't come into work the next day, as there was no job.

"That is not the way Washington works and that is certainly not the way the presidency works.

'Obsessed with his own self-image'

Mr Steele said Mr Trump was focused on how he looked to others.

"This is who he is. This is a guy obsessed with his own self-image; how his numbers are doing, whether everything is playing to a narrative he has developed in his own head," he said.

Mr Steele has been taking part in the annual Australian American Leadership Dialogue, a private diplomatic initiative where key figures from both countries gather to discuss the state of the relationship and work on ways of resolving tensions.

It is fair to say that phone call between Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Trump was widely discussed over the two-day session last week.

The transcript of the call was released as the dialogue was getting underway, in a timely reminder of the unique challenges in dealing with the 45th president.

Despite his concerns about Mr Trump's behaviour, and despite the various investigations now underway in Washington, Mr Steele believed the President would see out his four-year term.

"I think the President will be here for as long as he wants to be here," he said.

"At the end of the day he is going to control a whole lot more than people hope. He's not going anywhere."

Republican and Democrat officials at the leadership dialogue were keen to stress the US-Australia relationship was still very much on track, despite the bumpy start between the PM and the President.

Colorado Democratic congressman Ed Perlmutter said although Mr Trump was creating great anxiety in the US and around the world, America's allies should not be overly concerned.

"There's a lot of noise at the top, which is distracting, but the friendship and relationship we have with Australia is, in my opinion, second to none," he said.

"The US is going to remain strong in the Pacific.

"It's our backyard too and we're not going to ignore the region or our allies at all."

Michael Rowland attended the Australian American Leadership Dialogue.