Forget Biden vs. Trump, it’s Biden vs. himself at fall debates

Given the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on traditional campaign events and on the Democratic National Convention in August, the debates present singularly important opportunities for both candidates to make their case to the public—or to upend Biden’s increasingly wide lead over the president in the polls. Trump’s campaign has clearly made the calculation that Biden will not be a strong debater come this fall, or that the conspicuous haughtiness of calling for additional debates will engender concern about his mental faculties among swing voters who think that the former vice president may be too old.

But former campaign advisers, debate experts and staffers for his fallen debate opponents told The Daily Beast that Biden is nothing like the clown car of Republicans whom Trump faced in 2016, and is much better positioned to come across as authentic and personable than Hillary Clinton did in her trio of debates that fall. Biden, whose political brand is rooted in interpersonal connection with voters, is at his strongest when he can showcase his empathy, an emotion that Trump has struggled to display in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and resultant economic calamity and racial unrest…

The Biden campaign has a longstanding policy going back to the early days of the Democratic primary of not commenting on the mechanics of debate preparation but a source familiar with the Biden campaign’s thinking told The Daily Beast that the Trump campaign’s decision to task Rudy Giuliani with lobbying for additional debates has been met with great hilarity internally—and is being read as a sign of desperation.