Now playing
00:57
Trump touts debate performance in Florida rally
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waits to be introduced prior to a press conference at the National Press Club August 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waits to be introduced prior to a press conference at the National Press Club August 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:44
Jill Stein raises millions for recount
Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to staff and supporters at the New Yorker hotel after her defeat in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to staff and supporters at the New Yorker hotel after her defeat in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:14
Scientists urge Clinton to call for recount
LYNDEN, WA - MAY 07: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech during a rally at the The Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on May 7, 2016 in Lynden, Washington. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in Indiana on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)
Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
LYNDEN, WA - MAY 07: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech during a rally at the The Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on May 7, 2016 in Lynden, Washington. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in Indiana on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:25
Donald Trump's wild ride
Now playing
01:46
Trump's challenges in the Middle East
donald trump undocumented immigrants crime fact check origwx ty_00013807.jpg
donald trump undocumented immigrants crime fact check origwx ty_00013807.jpg
Now playing
02:47
Fact checking Trump on crimes by immigrants
Mark Makela/Getty Images/Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Now playing
01:26
Trump vs. the tape on Obama and the protester
Now playing
01:28
Trump compares Clinton email probe to Watergate
Members of the Secret Service rush Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump off the stage at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/AP
Members of the Secret Service rush Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump off the stage at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Now playing
01:20
Donald Trump rushed off stage by Secret Service
AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:16
Trump reads letter from Patriot's coach at rally
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during rally at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during rally at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016.
Now playing
01:56
Trump on US officials: 'What a group of losers'
donald trump nice and cool pensacola fl bts_00001523.jpg
donald trump nice and cool pensacola fl bts_00001523.jpg
Now playing
00:49
Trump's mantra in campaign's final week: Stay on point
donald trump nice to hillary clinton and democrats orig cm_00000000.jpg
donald trump nice to hillary clinton and democrats orig cm_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:52
Audio of Trump praising the Clintons and Democrats
cuomo lewandowski hillary clinton email exchange newday_00002327.jpg
cuomo lewandowski hillary clinton email exchange newday_00002327.jpg
Now playing
01:28
Cuomo grills Lewandowski on Clinton email 'hypocrisy'
Now playing
01:49
Meet the other Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Story highlights

Donald Trump is angry that his allies have conceded he lost the first debate

Trump's campaign told surrogates to defend his performance on a Wednesday call

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump is angry that his aides and advisers have conceded to reporters – largely without attribution – that the Republican nominee struggled in his first presidential debate.

In a conference call with surrogates Wednesday afternoon, Trump aides made clear the Republican nominee is upset that his allies publicly acknowledged they pushed him to change his preparation and tactics before his next bout with Hillary Clinton. And he wants them to stop it immediately.

The message was “not subtle,” a source familiar with the call said.

Trump wants his supporters to make an energetic defense of his performance and refuse to concede that he didn’t nail it.

Trump’s team told surrogates to say that Trump successfully reinforced his outsider status, contrasting him with Clinton as a status quo candidate, and to zero in on one-liners that they saw as successful – particularly his repeated line that Clinton has been in public life nearly 30 years with little to show for it.

The meaning of Trump’s overnight tweetstorm, on The Daily David Chalian

Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller denied the account.

“The entire description of today’s call is completely false and anybody saying otherwise is just making it up,” he said.

Reality check: Trump’s debate excuses

The pushback comes amid reports that advisers hoped Trump’s missteps against Clinton in the first debate would convince the Republican nominee to concentrate on his message and tactics before they debate again. Aides had said Tuesday and earlier Wednesday that they have delivered the message (gingerly, one said) that the first debate didn’t go well.

“Yes, he’s been made aware,” one adviser said.

The campaign emailed a survey to supporters late Wednesday seeking “immediate feedback from the first debate in order to win the second one.”

Aides and advisers hoped Trump’s refusal to participate in traditional debate preparation sessions – instead favoring the impromptu, off-the-cuff approach that helped him through the GOP primaries – might be eased after Monday night.

One ally described Trump as the kind of guy who can’t simply be told a stove is hot – he has to touch it to see for himself.

Another adviser said because of that reality, Monday’s poor performance could be the best thing that could have happened to Trump.

Trump, advisers said, had lines ready to hit back at predictable Clinton attacks.

“He just didn’t use them,” an adviser said. “Nobody is really sure why, but we’re all certain he won’t let opportunities pass next time around.”

Ahead of their October 9 town hall style debate in St. Louis, part of the problem, one source said, is that Trump doesn’t yet seem to grasp that he needs to expand his base of supporters to bring in new voters who are not yet sold on his temperament, policy positions or readiness to be president.

When Trump was told Tuesday that he should do some things differently, he responded that his approach is what his base likes.

Another challenge: There are a large number of voices – sometimes disparate – in Trump’s orbit. Two advisers said that played a big role in what they saw as Trump’s lack of a laser focus on the debate and his belief beforehand that he didn’t need to rely on traditional prep.

Trump gravitated toward those who played to his instincts – which, in hindsight, weren’t in his best interest, two advisers said.

Those in Trump’s orbit said the bottom line is it’s his ballgame – and no one else can convince him to do an about-face on how he approaches debate prep.

Trump aides weren’t just frustrated with their candidate. They complained that the first debate’s moderator, NBC’s Lester Holt, didn’t ask Clinton questions about controversies like the Clinton Foundation or the 2012 Benghazi attack – while grilling Trump on his birtherism and his refusal to release his tax returns.

Is Clinton winning over Obama’s coalition?

Monday night, Trump told CNN he thought Holt did a “great job” and described the questions as “very fair.”

Still, aides acknowledged that in a debate, Trump is free to bring up anything he wants.

He chose not to broach those subjects – or immigration, or appointments to the Supreme Court, two issues that could help him with Republicans – and bears some of the blame for not pressing those issues, they said.

Trump’s campaign sees opportunity for improvement ahead of the second debate, advisers said, particularly on his strongest issues – trade and his argument as a change agent against Clinton’s lengthy tenure in American politics.

CNN’s Phil Mattingly and MJ Lee contributed to this story