Biden debate prep focused on ways to 'trigger' Trump as former president relies on campaigning: reports

Fox News Channel will air the CNN Presidential Debate Simulcast at 9:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 27

The vastly different approaches taken by President Biden and former President Trump in prepping for Thursday's presidential debate have continued to diverge, with the former hoping he can "trigger" the latter in the heat of the moment, and the latter relying heavily on his campaign experience, multiple reports show.

Biden has spent the last five days at Camp David in rural Maryland huddling with at least 16 current and former aides, according to The New York Times, while Trump, who spoke with Fox News over the weekend, has held "policy discussions" with allies to prep for what is expected to be an epic clash on the debate stage in CNN's Atlanta studios.

An old movie theater and airplane hangar have been outfitted as a mock debate stage, where Biden, despite having varying hours and a non-rigid schedule, is preparing to go on the offensive against Trump on issues like immigration and abortion, as well as push back on claims — appearing to be supported by various videos — that he is confused and frail," The Times reported.


Donald Trump and Joe Biden

Former President Donald Trump, left, and President Joe Biden. (FOX News)

Biden's mock debates have included his personal attorney, Bob Bauer, playing the role of Trump, the report said, while the team helping prepare him is being led by former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, and includes National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, current White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, White House counselor Steve Richetti, as well as campaign officials Anita Dunn, Mike Donilon, Ben LaBolt, Jen O'Malley Dillon, Cedric Richmond, Julie Chavez Rodriquez, Quentin Fulks, Michael Tyler and Rob Flaherty.

Former White House official Brian Deese is also expected to assist, according to the report.

Three sources familiar with the debate prep told NBC News that Biden advisors are studying the former president's recent comments to see what topics might get under his skin most — all an effort to throw off what appears to be a more disciplined Trump as of late.


Ron Klain

Ron Klain, the former White House chief of staff. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

One source told the outlet the goal is to get "rally Trump" to come out, with another specifically pointing to Biden possibly attacking the former president's 2020 election loss and subsequent actions that led to the Jan. 6 protest as a way to anger him by making him feel he's being called a "loser."

Those sources told NBC they believe attacking Trump's post-2020 election actions could help boost Biden with independent voters who might be turned off by continued claims he actually won the election.

One Biden campaign official told the outlet the president has to walk a "fine line" because they want him to be seen as the "adult in the room." The official also said Biden didn't need to "goad" Trump into anything because the two men's contrasting visions for the country would be clear enough without that.


Donald Trump

Former U.S. President Donald Trump walks on stage to deliver the keynote address at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Policy Conference at the Washington Hilton on June 22, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Trump hit the campaign trail for a rally at Temple University in Philadelphia and the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. Fox spoke with him during his Philadelphia stop, where he described the "best strategy" as being around people who scream questions at him.

Trump jokingly asked the crowd during his rally what his approach should be on the debate stage.

"How should I handle him? Should I be tough and nasty, and just say, 'you're the worst president in history.' Or should I be nice and calm and let him speak?" he asked

Trump later told Fox he isn't worried about Biden’s debate preparations and feels confident in his own ability.

"Well, I think if he prepares, he'll be fine. Then he will forget it within about an hour after preparing. So, we'll see what happens. We'll see what happens," Trump said.

The Fox News Channel will be airing the CNN Presidential Debate Simulcast at 9:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 27.

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