WASHINGTON — President Trump is abruptly reversing himself on key issues. And for all his usual bluster, he’s startlingly candid about the reason: He’s just now really learning about some of them.

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” the president said after a discussion with Chinese President Xi Jinping that included his hopes that China’s pressure could steer North Korea away from its nuclear efforts.

“I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power” over North Korea, he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “But it’s not what you would think.”

That’s just one of several recent comments offering insight into what looks like a moderate makeover for an immoderate president. As he approaches 100 days in office he appears to be increasingly embracing what he describes as his “flexibility” – acknowledging he may not have thought deeply about some of the issues he shouted about throughout his political campaign.

The outsider politician who pledged to upend Washington has:

n Abandoned his vow to label China a currency manipulator.

n Rethought his hands-off assessment of the Syrian conflict – and ordered a missile attack.

n Turned his warm approach toward Vladimir Putin decidedly chilly and declared U.S.-Russia relations “may be at an all-time low.”

n Decided NATO isn’t actually obsolete, as he had claimed.

n Realized the U.S. Export-Import Bank is worth keeping around.

“Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing,”‘ he said of the bank he once panned as “featherbedding” and pledged to eliminate. He now says of the bank, which supports U.S. exports, “Actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money.”

Allies describe Trump as merely growing in the job, taking what he’s learning and adapting. The White House, however, is struggling to explain some of the changes.

Asked about the growing list of reversals Wednesday, spokesman Sean Spicer argued that NATO actually is “evolving toward the president’s position,” not the other way around, by focusing more on terrorism and encouraging nations to pay more toward defense.

What about flipflops besides NATO? Spicer was asked.

NATO is actually moving toward Trump, he responded again. Next question.

Trump, who seemed to remain in campaign mode for months after the election, appears to be listening to different advisers now. His onetime campaign guru, Steve Bannon, has been somewhat marginalized while moderate voices grow louder.

It may also be that Trump is merely looking for a way to improve his low approval rating, acknowledging his best tactic could be switching to a less dogmatic, more pragmatic approach.

“Candidates are always bombastic on the campaign trail – and Trump especially. But there is some growing into the office and dealing with the real effects of some of the policies,” said Stephen Moore, a conservative economist who helped craft Trump’s economic plans.

On the other hand, he warned, “if he starts just abandoning his promises, then I think it’s going to exact a political toll.”

In many cases, Trump’s campaign talk appeared born from instinct and little else. He was known as a candidate who rarely dug deep, and he employed few policy experts to inform his views. He’s also long boasted of his flexibility, describing his positions as starting points for negotiation – though many of his core ideas, including frustrations over the U.S. trade imbalance, have held steady for years.

Trump, for instance, vowed to label China a currency manipulator,

“They’re not currency manipulators,” he conceded in the Wall Street Journal interview, adding that he was concerned that officially branding them as such could jeopardize his talks with Beijing on confronting North Korea.

Trump’s evolution also reflects changing power dynamics within the White House, including the rise of Gary Cohn, his economics chief and the former president of Goldman Sachs.

Trump has also been turning to outside business leaders, including many he’s known for years, for guidance.