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By: Nathaniel Ballantyne

On Tuesday, September 29, the Commission on Presidential Debates will hold the first and perhaps the only presidential debate between President Donald J. Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Fox journalist Chris Wallace will moderate the debate, which will feature six 15 minute segments dedicated to these topics: Trump and Biden records, the Supreme Court, Covid-19, the economy, race and violence in American cities, and the integrity of the election.

President Donald Trump, who swore to beat Biden like “a drum” until “he cries for his Mommy,” has not held any mock debate session. He refused to stage any formal practice session telling his aides that he was born to debate and have been “preparing for debates all his life.”

Four years ago, the president held mock debate sessions in preparation for the debates, but this time, he refused to practice saying that his ability to fire back at an opponent “isn’t something you have to practice.” Instead, he has been having informal discussions with people in his administration, including friends and allies, about issues that might come up during the debate.

Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, an experienced debater has been holding mock sessions with advisers. Though Joe is not the greatest debater, his debates have been consistently good enough to get him by. But that is probably because Joe had never met someone like Donald Trump and his advisers are concerned that he may lose his temper and lash out at Trump, who is ready to launch blistering personal attacks on Joe Biden and his family.

“We’re talking about a different universe here,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said of Trump. Van Hollen role-played Ryan in mock debate sessions to help Biden prepare for the 2012 debate. Those were the days when catching your opponent in a flip-flop or making untrue statements could be a debate moment,” Van Hollen told NBC News. “It’s a whole different ball game with Donald Trump because he is a serial liar. He makes up stuff as he goes.”

Advisers and debate coaches are advising Biden to draw a character contrast with Trump rather than attempting to eviscerate him, arguing that the way to win over what few undecided voters remain is to come across as an experienced and stable alternative to the president.

During a virtual fundraiser earlier this month, Biden said jokingly, “I hope I don’t get baited into getting into a brawl with this guy.” But Biden is, after all, “a scrappy guy from Scranton,” as Van Hollen put it, and a temper is sometimes hiding just beneath, under his famous aviator sunglasses.


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