Politics First debate is Biden's chance to cancel Trump's attacks on his mental fitness. Or fall prey.

12:26  28 september  2020
12:26  28 september  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

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Trump turns his fire on Joe Biden at a White House briefing in wake of allegations of about the “What I do is debate prep, every day.” Biden , by contrast, has spent months honing his debate First debates , historically, are by far the most impactful and Tuesday night in the swing state of Ohio could be critical in determining Trump ’ s chances of clawing back Biden ’ s stubbornly consistent lead in the

Biden ' s early debate preparations focused on reading briefing books and holding smaller prep sessions with policy aides, people familiar with his John McCain -- who Trump has attacked even after his passing. Jill Biden told Tapper that it "took a lot of courage" for Cindy McCain to support her husband

For months, President Donald Trump has taken shot after shot after shot at Joe Biden over his mental fitness. On Tuesday, that line of attack will be put on trial at the first presidential debate, giving Biden his best opportunity yet to, as he has said, "compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I'm running against."

a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by NBC News

While Biden has suffered from some verbal slip-ups along the campaign trail as well as a slate of primary debates that were somewhat of a mixed-bag for the nominee, what political observers described as the "low expectations" being set by Trump should play to the former vice president's advantage in Cleveland.

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12, Trump called Biden ’ s Democratic primary debate showings “the worst debate performances I've ever seen,” falsely claiming he was “unable to “In trying to message that Biden may be unfit for office, the campaign also may have lowered expectations on his debate performance,” Republican

Aides have prepared Biden for Trump ’ s likely attacks on his family, particularly after Senate Republicans last week After the debate , Biden is looking to match some of Trump ’ s frequency of campaign appearances, embarking on a train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania, marking his first

"The ironic thing about the constant hyperbolic attacks by the president and his campaign on the former vice president's mental health or physical health is they've created a situation where if he doesn't pee himself — like Bradley Cooper in 'A Star Is Born' — he will have exceeded expectations," said Michael Steel, who helped prepare Paul Ryan for his 2012 vice presidential debate against Biden.

Alan Schroeder, a Northeastern University professor and expert on presidential debates, said Trump's low-balling of Biden's abilities "jumped out at me early on" as curious, saying he couldn't think of any similar example from past presidential cycles.

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Trump reveals Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie have been acting as Joe Biden during debate prep sessions ahead of Tuesday' s showdown. Trump offered a preview of his approach when mused that Biden ' s previous debate performances were influenced by medication although he offered no evidence.

Trump is ramping up his attacks on Biden . Hear the truth. How Biden differs from Trump ' s 'America First ' mentality . Those remarkably low expectations for Biden ' s performance in the general election debates are a godsend for him.

"I think they looked at the primary debates ... saw that Biden was not great in those and figured that's the guy that's going to show up in September," Schroeder told NBC News. "But there's a huge difference between primary debates, where you have 10 people on the stage, and a one-on-one debate."

Biden has spent the lead-up to the debate in traditional preparation. Trump, on the other hand, has eschewed that, telling aides he's not concerned about debating Biden because he thinks the former vice president will probably have a bad gaffe.

Trump has repeatedly claimed Biden is unaware of his surroundings, cannot communicate without a teleprompter and calls him "sleepy Joe." Allies have promoted misleading or false videos about Biden's stamina, mental health and teleprompter usage. The Trump campaign has spent millions on ads arguing Biden is "diminished" and "slipping."

Biden has sought to flip the attacks back onto Trump, who has suffered verbal missteps of his own. And Biden has pointed to physical issues, like when Trump awkwardly descended down a ramp after speaking at West Point this year.

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Trump , Biden make final preparations before first presidential debate . President Trump says he Biden has called on the Senate not to act on Trump ’ s Supreme Court nomination until after voters Before ended his tweetstorm, Trump declared: “Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and

Trump ’ s preparation for his debates against Hillary Clinton in 2016 was notoriously scattergun Eight years later, one of Donald Trump ’ s favorite attacks is to knock his 77-year-old opponent on his age or Devine warned that the worst case for Biden is if voters come out of the debate questioning his

"Look at how he steps, and look at how I step," Biden told WHTM. "Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps."

Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., said he does not see the advantage of Trump's pre-debate attacks on Biden's mental abilities.

"If (Trump) was a Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton or another great communicator, I would understand this theme," Curbelo said. "But Donald Trump is not always the most coherent and rarely eloquent in his discourse."

Polling on the subject is mixed. A July Monmouth University survey found more voters believed Biden, 77, has the mental and physical stamina to be president than felt so about Trump, 74. Earlier this month, a CNBC/Change Research poll of several swing states showed a small majority of voters felt both Biden and Trump are not mentally fit to be president.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who played Ryan in Biden's 2012 debate prep, told NBC News that if the president attacks Biden's cognitive abilities Tuesday, it "will show Trump to be the dishonest bullying person that he is."

Biden "needs to focus on what he will do for the country," Van Hollen said, adding, "When Donald Trump tries to get down in the mud, as he does every day, let him sink in it."

As the debate has neared, Trump and his campaign have changed their tune. During a rally last week in Ohio, Trump said Biden has "been doing this for 47 years. I've been doing it for 3 1/2 years, so he should be able to beat me," though he said in the same event that Biden was "shot," "sleepy" and "the worst presidential candidate in the history of politics."

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A strong performance in Tuesday' s debate by Biden , who currently has a modest lead in betting odds and polls, might boost stocks related to global trade and renewable energy, while a perceived debate victory by Trump could benefit fossil fuel and defense companies.

President Trump has again pointed attention to Joe Biden ’ s apparent slowness from ageing, or even the possibility of dementia, ahead of Tuesday night’ s debate , calling on Biden to agree to take a ‘test’. In the past the demands have been focused on mental fitness tests, however.

"Joe Biden has been a Washington politician for 47 years, debated very well twice while running for vice president and just came through 11 debates in the Democrat primaries where he defeated two dozen challengers," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said. "Joe Biden is a master debater who knows what he’s doing."

That tone is more in line with traditional pre-debate messaging — raising expectations for the opponent and keeping expectations low for your own candidate.

Biden advisers and allies have taken that approach. As one Biden ally told NBC News, Trump's "presidency has been so controversial and divisive that he's effectively been in a debate on most days since he took office," saying that will work to Trump's benefit.

Speaking with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle last week, Biden predicted Trump's strategy for the debate will "be straight attack."

"They're going to be mostly personal," Biden said. "That’s the only thing he knows how to do. He doesn’t know how to debate the facts because he’s not that smart. He doesn’t know that many facts."

Ted Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general who played Biden in Ryan's 2012 debate prep, said the former vice president needs to be "crisp ... concise and direct" in his answers. He said Biden should take care not to "wander off the subject matter. That's going to be very difficult under the circumstance with this particular opponent."

"You can't drift because that's what old people do, and I'm older than both of them, so I can say this," added Olson, 80. "Sometimes these politicians never want to stop talking, and that's not going to look good for a person of a certain age."

Olson said a good example of how Biden should tackle this topic comes from Reagan who, when asked in a 1984 debate if he was too old to be president, cracked a memorable joke: "I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

"It was a perfect answer because it brushed it away," Olson said. "He didn't take it seriously. He didn't act like he was threatened by it and boom! It was over."

'Will you shut up, man?': Testy exchanges on health care, Supreme Court among debate top moments .
They bickered on who should appoint the next Supreme Court justice, their stances on health care and even brought each other’s families into the fray. Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News struggled to rein in the candidates and at times admonished Trump as interrupting more frequently than Biden. © Mario Tama, Getty Images A server wears a face shield and face-covering as people sit to watch a broadcast of the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

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