Incumbent presidents have struggled before when it comes time to debate during their bid for reelection, though unlike President Trump they appeared to spend more time preparing.
President George W. Bush made a last-minute decision in 2004 to retreat to his ranch in Texas ahead of his first debate with Sen. John Kerry after aides deemed the White House too distracting.
But a president cannot entirely escape the realities of the job; for Bush that year it was hurricane season and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the debate, he was described as alternately tired-sounding, angry and sour. Polls showed Americans believed Kerry won the debate by a wide margin.
President Barack Obama held a debate camp outside of Las Vegas in the lead-up to his first showdown with Mitt Romney in 2012 — but wasn’t necessarily thrilled to be there. Obama notoriously despised debating, believing them a test of performance and style over more substantive matters.
“Basically they’re keeping me indoors all the time,” Obama told a supporter during a phone call when he visited a local campaign office. “It’s a drag. They’re making me do my homework.”
When it came time to debate Romney, Obama delivered a lackluster performance that failed to land any attacks on Romney and that his campaign barely tried to spin as anything but a disappointment.
“We had one stinker in there,” Obama recently told his old campaign manager David Plouffe on his podcast. “It was basically on me.”
Hunkered down to prepare for his next debate at a riverside golf resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, aides made sure to tell reporters that Obama’s golf clubs stayed behind.
Trump hasn’t made similar efforts: he was spotted on Sunday on the course at his golf club in Virginia.
More than 1.2 million Americans have already cast their ballot, according to the 20 states that are reporting, said Bioreports’s Pamela Brown, ahead tonight’s presidential debate and voters in 32 states have already had the opportunity to cast their ballots.
About 800,000 of those ballots cast come from eight of Bioreports’s most competitive-rated states. In North Carolina and Wisconsin alone, more than 500,000 ballots have already been cast roughly a quarter of ballots requested.
The high return rate suggests many voters have already made up their minds, and they’re heeding the advice from politicians and election officials who are urging people to return their ballots quickly due to concerns of delays in mail delivery.
By the last presidential debate every state will have already started early voting.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden released his 2019 tax returns ahead of Tuesday evening’s debate, a clear effort to draw contrast with Donald Trump following the bioreports reporting that the President did not pay any federal taxes in 10 out of 15 years beginning in 2000.
Biden’s returns show he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal income tax last year and had an adjusted gross income of about $985,000.
Biden’s release of his 2019 tax returns come hours before the first presidential debate and two days after the bioreports reported that Trump paid no federal income taxes whatsoever in 10 out of 15 years beginning in 2000. Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, the Times reported. Trump has not released his tax returns to the public.
California Sen. Kamala Harris also released her 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, which showed that she and her husband, Doug Emhoff, paid about $1.2 million in taxes and had an adjusted gross income of about $3 million.
Last year, the Bidens released tax returns that showed they paid a total of $3.7 million in 2017 and $1.5 million in 2018.
You can read the documents here.
Ahead of the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine says he thinks the state’s voters will cast their ballots based on “bread and butter issues” and “vote their pocket book,” adding that the Supreme Court is an important topic.
“Ohioans vote their pocket book a lot. I think you have a lot of voters who are concerned about who is on the court. I think, as people try to assess where am I going to be, am I going to be better off with one guy or better off with the other one?” DeWine told Bioreports on Tuesday.
“I think it comes down to bread and butter issues and basic issues, such as the court, and I think people will make those decisions to a great extent on that,” he added.
DeWine said he thinks there are a lot of people who are happy with President Trump’s decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat and appointing conservative judges is one area where he kept his initial campaign promise.
“This is an area where he really kept a pledge that he made. He said I’m going to put conservatives on the bench, and he has done that consistently. So, I think those issues are frankly more important than, you know, a tax issue. And that’ll play out, and you’ll see that discussed I’m sure tonight,” DeWine said.
If President Trump has an overriding strategy in the final days of the campaign, it is to divert attention away from the coronavirus pandemic that voters say in polls he has badly mismanaged. It has been evident for months Trump is eager to move on.
That’s not entirely possible during Tuesday’s debate, where the pandemic is one of the topics selected by the night’s moderator. The scaled-down audience and lack of a handshake also bring the health crisis into the debate hall atmospherics. And Biden appears eager to hammer home his message that Trump woefully bungled the federal response.
Ahead of the event, the pandemic’s economic fallout came into sharper focus after Disney announced it was laying off 28,000 theme park workers due to a slowdown in business.
In their loose preparation sessions, Trump and his team devised ways to use the issue both as a way to broadcast Trump’s record and to accuse Biden of being in China’s pocket. But Trump’s political advisers are cognizant that Americans’ views of his handling of the crisis are largely solidified and mostly negative — and have eagerly jumped at ways to change the topic entirely.
Heading into tonight’s debate, Joe Biden is bracing for personal attacks from President Trump and has studied up on the President’s debate style and mannerisms, advisers said, with one top adviser saying “he’s ready for anything.”
Biden and his advisers have run through possible attacks the President could make on his son Hunter over his business dealings in China and Ukraine, an adviser said, noting he may quickly address this type of attack but then turn the focus back to issues at hand like the economy and coronavirus. They’ve also practiced how to respond to the President’s mannerisms on the debate stage – like interrupting – with Biden even reviewing some of Trump’s 2016 debates against Hillary Clinton.
Biden’s debate preparations included a mix of mock debates and rapid fire question and answer sessions – with his final major in person session with his advisers taking place yesterday, one adviser said, and he’s been reviewing his briefing material in the final hours before the debate.
Biden spent about 20 minutes at the debate site for his walkthrough this evening, and top advisers like Mike Donilon and Ron Klain, who ran Hillary Clinton’s debate prep in 2016, are on hand for this trip.
Biden’s advisers feel like this debate will play out differently for Biden than the unwieldy Democratic primary debates – where he was debating multiple opponents within his own party.
They say his preparations have been very direct and focused as he has just one opponent to hone in on – and one with whom he has fundamental differences which will be on display tonight.
Legendary journalist Sam Donaldson said the candidates will be focused on appealing to the middle at tonight’s debate.
“They’re playing to the middle,” the former ABC news anchor told Bioreports’s Anderson Cooper on “Full Circle.” And what is the middle looking for? They are looking for issues.”
As far as debate performance, Donaldson said Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden must not let President Trump bully him.
“Trump will try to, Trump will say the most outlandish things … many of them not true and he’ll attack Hunter Biden,” he said.
Donaldson said he’d like to see Biden have “a little touch of anger and then say, ‘let me tell you the facts Mr. President’ and then very calmly and very assuredly explain why what Mr. Trump says is just wrong.”
He went on to say that Biden “must keep his cool” and “must not let Trump dominate him.”
Inside the map room of the White House, a small group of advisers sat around a table and peppered the President with accusations and criticisms about everything from lying to incompetence. The team, led by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was getting Donald Trump prepared for the onslaught they expect from Joe Biden on the debate stage Tuesday night.
About 100 miles north in Wilmington, Delaware, a similar scene played out with Biden and his team, led by longtime Biden aide and debate expert Ron Klain. Biden’s prep has been more traditional — putting on mock debates with veteran Democratic attorney Bob Bauer playing the role of Trump in at least one session.
For two very different men with polar opposite temperaments and divergent governing philosophies, their debate objectives have some fundamental things in common: Put their opponent on the defense and make it as much a referendum on the other as possible. In conversations with multiple sources familiar with both candidates’ prep, each is practicing ways to get under the other’s skin, while also avoiding blowing up and going off script if the debate turns personal.
Advisers to both candidates are expecting one of the night’s biggest flash points to be about each man’s children.
Bioreports is told that Trump is preparing to go after Hunter Biden for getting lucrative jobs overseas when his father was vice president that he will say the younger Biden was not qualified for. Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the former vice president and his son acted corruptly in Ukraine.
Their hope is that it knocks Biden off his game — either causing him to blow up or say something incorrect.
Biden’s team has been working with him to be ready for Trump to go after his son in a way he hasn’t had to deal with as directly before. Trump advisers have also spent time working with the President to stay calm if Biden retaliates by invoking Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, both White House aides with no previous government experience. A source familiar with Biden’s prep, however, says his plan is to pivot away from this issue, not engage.
Read the full story here.
The Bioreports Poll of Polls tracks the national average in the race for president between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
The poll of polls includes the most recent national telephone polls which meet Bioreports’s standards for reporting and which measure the views of registered or likely voters. The poll of polls does not have a margin of sampling error.
As of yesterday, this is where the candidates stand: