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Democrat Joe Biden will face the most important audience of his political career when he and President Donald Trump meet for the first presidential debate on September 29.
The two men will clash against the backdrop of national malaise: a deadly pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 people in the United States, months of racial justice protests, and the worst economy since the Great Recession.
Viewers might be watching for who of the two oldest presidential nominees would stumble on the way to the podium or for verbal gaffes at the debate to be held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
But several Democratic insiders who have worked close to Biden or who are familiar with his style said they were confident he would avoid taking Trump’s bait on his age and mental fitness. Instead, Biden will aim to stick Trump with the heft of a devastated economy and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
“It’s the pandemic, stupid,” said Bill Daley, who was chief of staff to President Barack Obama, putting a contemporary spin on the phrase coined by Democratic consultant James Carville while working for Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992.
“You see in other parts of the world the economy is coming back better than ours… because they are addressing the pandemic in a different way,” Daley told Insider. “And that’s the whole game. Trump will want to talk about the economy or what it was or what he dreamt it was, and Biden has to say ‘we are in this crisis because of the pandemic.'”
At least one strategist suggested Biden try to agitate Trump by questioning his intelligence, but most caution against mudslinging.
With less than five weeks before Election Day on November 3, the first debate will be crucial viewing for independents and undecided voters — particularly in several hotly contested states such as Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio — and will garner millions of viewers.
It will be a key opportunity for Biden to re-introduce himself to Americans, many of whom only know the CliffsNotes version of Biden’s political career, said Daley, who also served as Commerce Secretary in the Clinton administration.
‘Joe makes gaffes. Trump just lies.’
Daley, who helped Democrat Al Gore prepare for his 2000 presidential debates, said Biden shouldn’t react to Trump’s attacks, should leave the fact-checking to the moderators, and avoid being pulled into the president’s “game” of turning any event into a tv-style “showpiece.”
“If the moderators don’t pin him down, Biden sure won’t be able to,” Daley said. “He’s just gotta be himself. For good, bad or indifferent. Joe makes gaffes. Trump just lies. Big difference between the two.”
Biden’s camp has stayed mum on his preparations for debating a political rival known for name-calling and inaccurate statements, and who has repeatedly questioned the Democratic nominee’s mental and physical acuity.
But on Thursday, the Democratic nominee hinted at how he’d approach his Republican rival, acknowledging he expects Trump to say “awful things about me and my family,” according to the Associated Press.
“I hope …read more
Source:: Business Insider