Apparently President Trump is comfortable enough with his debate skills to forego any kind of preparations for the sparring he’ll do with Joe Biden during the weeks before the election, despite the fact that the first debate against the former Vice President is less than three weeks from now.
That’s the report coming from NBC News, who say that Trump has no plans to do the traditional mock debate that candidates generally do, in which they pick a political confidant or ally that they think matches the debate style of the opponent they’ll be facing. In 2016, Trump famously sparred with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie filling in as a pretend Hillary Clinton.
This time around, Trump believes such practice is unnecessary. He’s opting instead to be briefed beforehand on topics that may come up in a debate by top officials with a strong grasp of the subjects.
But Trump’s advantage in debates — and his team has argued for even more than the three that are planned — doesn’t actually come from knowledge of global geopolitics or even practicing how to rebut a well-crafted argument. It comes from his absolute disdain for following any rules of decorum at all and his willingness to simply make anything he wants up right on the spot and insist it’s true. The fact that, as NBC notes, Trump has said in the past that debating someone “isn’t something you have to practice” doesn’t mean he’s right about that — it just means that he doesn’t care what his opponent says or even what’s true, just what he has to say.
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Biden, in fact, may have been on to something good when he suggested having real-time fact-checking at the debates, something that would not just infuriate Trump, but throw him all the way off his game. He relies on the same speech patterns, the same phrases, and the same rhetoric even when he’s doing something as small as a simple press briefing. Without fail, when a reporter asks him a question, he redirects the topic, answers with a flat-out lie, or meanders off-script. Then he shouts down his “opponent” and probably calls them a name.
His confidence in refusing to practice is pure ego, just like everything he does, and it’s likely to lose him the debates.