Donald Trump’s team has reportedly begun preparing for the debates against Joe Biden after confirming this week the president would attend the scheduled events, as one of his advisers suggested the former vice president could be a tough opponent to battle.
Stephen Miller, an adviser to Mr Trump who has been studying Mr Biden’s debate performances over the years, said he was “actually a very good debater” who “doesn’t have as many gaffes as he does in his everyday interviews”, according to the Washington Post.
The president’s adviser spoke on-the-record for a report that looked at how the Trump campaign has been preparing for what will likely be an unusual and unprecedented series of debates, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has made running for the White House an entirely different game.
Mr Miller told the newspaper he “would be highly surprised if Joe Biden actually went through with all three debates” — despite the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee having committed to the events before the Trump campaign did in a letter on Thursday.
He added: “I think their strategy will be to show up to one, show that he is able to function and then pull the plug on any additional debates.”
The president and his allies have lambasted Mr Biden for “hiding in the basement” during the pandemic, claiming the former vice president was refusing to hold campaign events as part of an alleged strategy to avoid public gaffes or controversy.
In reality, Mr Biden has held multiple rounds of press conferences, delivered public speeches, launched a podcast and sat for a variety of media interviews since the pandemic began. However, he announced this week he would not travel to Milwaukee to receive the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, instead participating in a scaled-down virtual Democratic National Convention.
Mr Miller also said of the former vice president’s debate performances: “I would make the argument that Joe Biden would even be the favourite in the debates since he’s been doing them for 47 years.”
The Biden campaign has meanwhile remained tight-lipped about his debate prep, according to the Post, with one person involved in the campaign stating: “The first rule of debate prep is that nobody talks about debate prep.”