“He’s a dumb guy, a dumb guy, always known as a dumb guy,” Trump mentioned throughout a Middletown, Pennsylvania, rally Saturday.
He previewed a kind of theories at his White House press convention Sunday night when he baselessly charged that Biden is on medicine, repeating claims from a tweet earlier that day.
“I’m not joking. I’m willing to take a drug test and I think he should too,” Trump mentioned from the White House podium, as two of his debate coaches, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, appeared on. “Check out the Internet. Plenty of people say it,” Trump mentioned.
Biden has typically ignored these sorts of untamed accusations, and when requested Sunday in Wilmington what he wants to perform within the debate, he replied: “Just tell the truth.”
Biden’s deputy marketing campaign supervisor Kate Bedingfield responded to Trump’s drug check taunts late on Sunday: “Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it. We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19,” she mentioned in a press release.
Passing the commander-in-chief check
With the talk looming giant as considered one of their final probabilities to influence voters, it is an open query whether or not each males can hold the talk substantive Tuesday night time and keep away from the swift descent into the gutter politics that Trump appears to relish.
Republican and Democratic strategists identified in interviews this week that the debates are distinctive this 12 months as a result of Trump is such a polarizing determine and many citizens will tune in with their opinions already hardened and unlikely to alter.
Still, each males want to achieve these pockets of voters they’ve battled over all through the election: suburban moderates, mushy Republicans and center-right independents, notably these inside blue-collar households within the Midwest, who gave Trump an opportunity in 2016 and at the moment are skeptical that he deserves one other 4 years.
With Biden anticipated to drill Trump for his cavalier and infrequently heartless response to the pandemic, a number of GOP strategists mentioned Trump’s finest probability of profitable again these voters is to keep away from being drawn right into a defensive posture on his dealing with of the coronavirus — and as a substitute concentrate on the financial system.
That is one key space the place Trump has maintained voter belief, whereas portraying Biden as an empty vessel for socialist-leaning forces within the Democratic Party who need to elevate taxes and improve rules that the President says would cripple small companies.
“If you are Trump, part of your mission here is making sure that any center-right voter who voted for you in 2016, and mostly votes Republican, has a reason to stay with you. The best policy ground for him to fight upon is the economy,” mentioned Scott Jennings, former particular assistant to President George W. Bush and a Source contributor.
Jennings added that as Biden tries to dwell on Trump’s missteps in his dealing with of the pandemic, the President “can’t get bogged down re-litigating the past” and should “constantly try to move the conversation to more fertile ground — and that’s the future, the recovery.”
Jennings acknowledged that whereas a few of these center-right voters do not approve of Trump in terms of the coronavirus, “it is entirely possible, maybe even likely, that group would be willing to concede they trust Trump more on the economic recovery from coronavirus than they would trust Biden.”
Biden has a chance to influence anxious voters that he can be the regular, competent and skilled commander-in-chief who may lead the nation out of its three-pronged disaster of the pandemic, the recession and the roiling debate over systematic racism and police brutality.
The former vice chairman’s problem Tuesday night time might be to “defend his record without being defensive” as Trump tries to “rattle his cage” with offensive taunts and private assaults about his household, mentioned Dan Pfeiffer, who was former President Barack Obama’s senior adviser for technique and communications on the White House. (Trump telegraphed that a part of his technique along with his references to Hunter Biden at his Sunday information convention).
“What has put Biden in this position (as the leader in the race) is that he seems like someone who could be president,” Pfeiffer mentioned. “There’s a stature gap between Biden and Trump, and Biden has to be careful not to narrow that gap by getting pulled down in the mud with Trump.”
Another key check for Trump is whether or not he can resist his worst instincts within the type of gross exaggerations, factual inaccuracies and fringe conspiracy theories which have eroded voters’ confidence in his management.
“The moderator is a facilitator,” Fahrenkopf mentioned on Source’s “Reliable Sources.” “We don’t expect Chris or our other moderators to be fact-checkers. The minute the TV is off, there are going to be plenty of fact-checkers in every newspaper and every television station in the world. That’s not the role, the main role of our moderators.”
Trump has to stay on the offensive, mentioned Brett O’Donnell, a veteran debate coach who ready GOP presidential candidates together with George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney for a few of their presidential debates. “I’ve described this as the ultimate disrupter versus the consummate career politician,” O’Donnell mentioned.
Facing Biden — whom O’Donnell describes as “the most conventional politician in a long time to be a party’s nominee” — Trump has an opportunity to make use of “Biden’s record from 47 years in politics to flesh out where he would take the country” and also needs to attempt “to push him as far left as possible,” O’Donnell mentioned, to blunt Biden’s appeals to average voters.
“What makes the President difficult to debate is that he does stuff through branding. He doesn’t make these long-drawn out substantive arguments. … He just sort of brands you to make a point and then hopes it will be filled in after the fact,” O’Donnell mentioned.
Biden’s means to rebut these labels — whether or not about his psychological acuity or the notion that he would lead the nation towards socialism — might be considered one of his central challenges.
Polling gaps for each Trump and Biden
The President may even be in search of methods to handle his huge gender hole with Biden, who’s main him amongst feminine voters by some 30 factors. (Biden is trailing Trump with males).
Trump has alienated many feminine voters along with his type, his tweets and his callous feedback about coronavirus deaths — like his current assertion at an Ohio rally that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody” simply because the US was crossing 200,000 deaths.
The means of each Trump and Biden to attempt to make the talk a direct dialog with the typical voter within the midst of their heated exchanges will form the extent to which they can persuade. One side of that’s exhibiting Americans they perceive the ache and nervousness the pandemic has wrought — although empathy has by no means been an space of power for Trump.
“Both of these guys forget their audiences, and it will be interesting to see if they’re just debating each other all night long,” O’Donnell mentioned. “The President has a great opportunity to speak to some of those suburban security moms through what’s happening in the cities; and he has an opportunity to speak to them through the Supreme Court pick.”
Whether he seizes that chance is one other query. Because whereas message self-discipline and restraint could also be the very best instruments he has to show round his flagging marketing campaign, Trump has usually failed to make use of them.