As the frontrunner in national polls, Donald Trump will likely get the center podium in next week’s debate.
But while other Republicans running for president are studying briefing books and rehearsing one-liners ahead of the televised showdown, Trump is taking a different route, according to people who know him.
“He is unscripted,” longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone told The Daily Caller. “Un-coached. Un-handled. And no one puts words in his mouth.”
Trump’s team is emphasizing his lack of debate preparation — at least in the traditional sense — to bolster the campaign’s argument that he is not a politician.
“Doesn’t the fact that he’s at the British Women’s Open tell you something?” said somebody with knowledge of the Trump campaign operation, referencing the candidate’s jaunt to Scotland this week.
“Right now, Jeb Bush is in some Holiday Inn suite eating sucky club sandwiches, there’s some stand in, someone playing Trump, somebody playing Scott Walker, somebody playing Ted Cruz…”
“Trump’s not doing any of that,” the person added. “Trump already knows what he’s saying. He knows his own mind.”
A big question heading into the Wednesday debate in Cleveland is who will be on the receiving side of Trump’s attacks.
“I don’t think he’s going in with a strategy of ‘I have to attack this guy or I have to attack,’” the person said. “I think he’s going to go in and lay out his vision. Say what he thinks.”
“But if you’ve read his books, you’ve seen his speeches, he has a very clear maxim,” the person added. “If you attack Trump, you’re going to get counter-attacked at twice the velocity.”
Asked if Trump intends to push a specific message in the debate, the source uttered a familiar phrase. “Yes. ‘Let’s make America great again.’”