Biden's mission: Don't punch down

In anticipation, Biden has been studying up for weeks. He has two veteran debate specialists helping him with prep: Anita Dunn and Ron Klain, both of whom assisted in debate prep for Obama.

Among his greatest challenges in practice debate sessions, according to one of Biden’s advisers, was getting sidetracked by jabs from lower tiered contenders.

When that happens, Biden has been coached to avoid conflict and praise his fellow Democrats on stage. The plan is to mention they’re not all that far apart in their ideas, then bring the conversation back to Trump and how Biden is best positioned to take him on. While some Democrats have privately wondered if Biden might verbally stumble on stage in a forgetful or loose-tongued moment, one of his advisers confidently rebutted: “He won’t.”

The former vice president is also being advised to use attacks on his record to his advantage.