After months of casting former Vice President Joe Biden as decrepit, verbally stilted and incapable of winning the upcoming presidential debates, President Trump on Monday predicted that Biden will win them thanks to his decades of experience even as he continued to disparage Biden’s physical and mental abilities.
Trump has disparaged Biden’s rhetorical abilities throughout the general election campaign, calling the Democratic presidential nominee’s primary debate showings the “worst debate performances I’ve ever seen,” incorrectly claiming he was “unable to answer anything” and that moderators were asking, “Are you awake, sir? Sir, please wake up.”
As recently as Saturday, Trump claimed without evidence Biden needed a “big fat shot in the ass” for his final primary debate against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in March, repeating a claim he made in August alongside a call for drug testing before the general election debates.
However, possibly heeding advice from advisers that presidential campaigns historically raise debate expectations for their opponents, Trump switched his tune on Biden’s debating abilities on Monday, noting at a rally in Dayton, Ohio that he’s “been doing it for 47 years, I’ve been doing it for 3 and a half.”
“Who knows,” Trump said, predicting “he should be able to beat me,” because “he’s much more experienced” and “he’s great.”
Trump contradicted himself minutes later when discussing how a potential President Biden would deal with world leaders, calling him “shot” and “the worst presidential candidate in the history of politics,” claiming he “can’t speak without the teleprompter.”
Forbes has reached out to the Biden campaign for comment.
Trump reportedly hasn’t done much preparation for the debates, with his campaign not holding a single mock session and making no plans to do so, according to NBC News. Instead, NBC and Politicoreported, Trump’s strategy is to prod Biden to knock him off balance.
“This president talks about cognitive capability. He doesn’t seem to be cognitively aware of what’s going on,” Biden said in July. “I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”
What To Watch For
The Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday announced the moderators for the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate in the run up to November. Fox News Host Chris Wallace will moderate the first debate on Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully will moderate the second on Oct. 15 in Miami, Florida, and NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker will moderate the third on Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. The vice presidential debate will take place on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and will be moderated by USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page.