Finally, Trump thrives on anger and conflict. There is no margin in getting into a name-calling match with him. He melts down in the face of pity and laughter, however, and refusing to engage will infuriate him.
Rope-a-dope isn’t just for boxing. Sometimes, it’s an effective debate strategy, too. If Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden puts all these pieces together, he has an excellent chance of reducing President Trump to apoplexy.
The first rule is to never rise to the bait and trade insult for insult. Biden’s best tactic is to always be the adult in the room. The first time Trump gets nasty, which will probably be in the first 10 minutes since nasty is Trump’s go-to move, Biden should look directly into the camera and calmly explain, “If insults are what you want from a president, I’m not your candidate. I’m not here to trade insults with President Trump. I’m here to talk about the issues that matter to you, like how we are going to dig out of the coronavirus mess that President Trump has left us in. So let me use my remaining time to talk about that.”
When Trump interrupts, as he inevitably will, Biden should resist the natural urge to talk over him. Instead, after Trump has exhausted himself, Biden should shake his head ruefully and say, “There he goes again,” and then get back to the point he was trying to make when interrupted.