Trump and Biden get ready for the debate: President heads to Cleveland after ‘little preparation’ and constant demands for Biden to take a drug test
- Ahead of their first debate Monday night, Donald Trump has increased his demands Joe Biden takes a drug test
- Trump has offered no proof Biden has taken drugs
- Biden campaign mocked president, saying if Trump ‘thinks his best case is made in urine, he can have it’
- Candidates meet face-to-face for the first time this election year Tuesday night
- Debate being held in Cleveland at Cleveland Clinic
- Will run 90 minutes and be moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace
- Biden is preparing with mock sessions and briefing books
- Trump is meeting with Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani
Donald Trump has increased his demands Joe Biden take a drug test ahead of their first presidential debate on Tuesday night while the Democratic nominee is studying briefing books to prepare for their first showdown.
The debate marks the first joint, face-to-face appearance for the two candidates during this election year.
It’s unclear how much of an effect the debate will have on the presidential race in this unusual year where the coronavirus has upended traditional campaigning.
Ahead of their show down, hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic, the two candidates took different approaches to their preparations.
President Donald Trump (left) has been preparing for Tuesday night’s debate with Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani while Joe Biden (right) has held mock sessions and read briefing books
The debate stage is being prepared in Cleveland where the two candidates will meet face-to-face for the first time this presidential year
Stand in rehearse on stage for Tuesday night’s first president debate at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic
President Trump has insisted repeatedly – and without proof – that Biden took performance enhancement drugs ahead of the Democratic debates
Mounted police patrol around the Samson Pavilion as workers prepare for the first presidential debate
Biden is buckled down in Wilmington, holding mock sessions with his staff and practicing keeping calm during any zingers that might be thrown at him. Trump is at the White House, where he spent Monday talking about manufacturing and the coronavirus pandemic at two separate events.
The president has insisted repeatedly – and without proof – that Biden took performance enhancement drugs ahead of the Democratic debates. He’s challenged him to take a drug test ahead of their debate here while offering to take one himself.
‘Joe Biden just announced that he will not agree to a Drug Test. Gee, I wonder why?,’ Trump tweeted Monday morning.
And the president said during a press conference at the White House on Sunday that he wasn’t joking.
‘No, I’m not joking. I mean, I’m willing to take a drug test. I think he should too,’ he said.
On Sunday, when asked by reporters if he would take a drug test, Biden replied: ‘No, I have no comment.
And his campaign put out a statement saying if Trump ‘thinks his best case is made in urine, he can have it.’
Biden ‘intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it,’ the campaign said. ‘We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200,000 Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19.’
The candidates will not shake hands when they take the stage at 9 pm ET on Tuesday night.
There will be no opening statements and the first question will go to Trump.
There will be a ‘small’ audience in the room, all of whom will be tested for COVID, according to Peter Ayre, senior adviser to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The 90-minute debate will be divided into six segments, selected by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who is moderating: the pandemic, the economy, the Supreme Court, election integrity, the candidates’ records, and ‘race and violence in our cities.’ A report from the New York Times on Sunday that revealed Trump paid $750 in income tax in 2016 also will likely come up.
Preparations are underway in Cleveland with barricades going up on Euclid Avenue in front of the building where the debate will take place. Military trucks have arrived on the scene and there is a heavy police presence on the Cleveland Clinic campus where the two candidates will meet.
Overhead on Monday a small plane circled the area with a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign.
Once on stage Tuesday night, neither the candidates nor the moderator will wear masks.
It’s unclear, however, if Biden will come out wearing one. The former vice president has been cautious in his public outings, limiting the crowd size and making sure white circles on the ground keep attendees socially distanced. He is often masked when outside.
The first debate will be 90 minutes long with no commercials and start at 9 pm ET
Technicians run tests ahead of Tuesday night’s debate
The Samson Pavilion on the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic, where the debate takes place
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani – seen at Donald Trump’s White House press conference on Sunday – are helping the president prep for the debate
Biden is rehearsing and studying his briefing books – in their Arial typeface, 14 point type.
Bob Bauer, a senior Biden adviser and former White House general counsel, is playing the role of Trump, according to The New York Times.
Trump is weighing trying to bait his rival with talking about his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings – a popular applause with his supporters on the campaign trail – and mentioning Tara Reade, who accused Biden of sexual assault in the 1970s when she worked in his office, which he has denied.
Biden is practicing keeping his temper and not being defensive.
‘I hope I don’t get baited into getting into a brawl with this guy,’ he told donors at a fund-raiser earlier this month.
His wife Jill Biden said he will be ready.
‘Oh, my gosh, yes, he’s ready. You know, one of the things I am excited for is, when the American people see Joe Biden up there on that stage, they’re going to see what a president looks like, someone who is, like I’m saying, calm, steady, strong, resilient. It’s like night and day between the two candidates,’ she told CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday.
The 90-minute debate will be divided into six segments, selected by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who is moderating: the pandemic, the economy, the Supreme Court, election integrity, the candidates’ records, and ‘race and violence in our cities’
She will be with her husband on Tuesday night and the two will leave on a bus tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
Trump, meanwhile, said on Sunday he is getting help from former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
‘I would say maybe a combination of these two. And either one of them is about five times smarter than Sleepy Joe,’ he said.
Melania Trump will join him in Cleveland as will his oldest daughter Ivanka, who has been a surrogate for the campaign, will be at the debate.
The president also brushed off questions about whether he is engaged in formal debate prep, saying he debates every day.
‘What I do is debate prep every day. I’m taking questions from you people all the time,’ he told reporters. ‘I mean, I’ve taken a lot of questions from you over the last number of years, and he doesn’t.’
He added: ‘I’m running a country.’