Biden Aides Reportedly Training Him To ‘Trigger’ Trump On Debate Night

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
Font Size:

President Joe Biden’s aides are training him to “trigger” former President Donald Trump when they meet on the debate stage Thursday, three people familiar with the debate prep told NBC News.

Biden and several of his White House and campaign aides have gone to Camp David in Maryland for the week in an effort to prepare the president for the first general presidential debate set to air on CNN on Thursday and be moderated by the station’s own Dana Bash and Jake Tapper. While secluded in Camp David, aides are prepping Biden to face all sorts of Trump tactics while preparing the president to make an attempt to get under his opponent’s skin by hurling insults and attacks, sources told NBC News. (RELATED: ‘Keep The Bar Off The Floor’: Low Expectations Won’t Save Biden From Sleepy Debate Performance, Observers Say)

“If I were advising Biden, I’d try to make fun of Trump,” former Vice President Dan Quayle told NBC News. “Try to ridicule him. That will get him mad.”

As a part of Biden’s strategy, the president may make reference to the 2020 election and infer that Trump “snapped” and caused the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Riot, the three people familiar with the preparation told NBC News. Biden’s allies reportedly believe that if Trump feels like a “loser” on the debate stage, he could potentially lash out.

At Camp David, the president has a mock stage set up, decked out with lights and production equipment to help simulate Thursday night, The New York Times reported. The days spent in preparation at Camp David are not kept on a tight schedule and instead they have different lengths and are not tightly structured, people familiar with the planning at Camp David told the NYT.

The aides are trying to prepare Biden to stay on topic while also being able to respond to policy proposals put forth by Trump, the NYT reported.

The first presidential debate in the 2024 election cycle is coming several months earlier than originally planned. After the Trump campaign repeatedly said the former president was ready to debate Biden “anywhere, any time, anyplace,” the president proposed two dates for the pair to face off. The proposed debates, however, came with a list of conditions the campaign wanted in place. Proposing two early dates ahead of October, the Biden campaign reportedly also said it did not want a live audience, a select variety of networks to host and only two candidates on stage.

Within hours of the proposal, CNN had claimed the first date and later solidified many of the proposals the campaign put forth after both candidates agreed to participate. (RELATED: Trump Reveals Latest Condition Biden Team Apparently Wants For Debates)

Ahead of the debate, Biden and his communications team were forced to do clean-up after the president was caught on camera experiencing several senior moments. At the White House’s Juneteenth celebration, Biden appeared to be frozen while Vice President Kamala Harris and other attendees danced around him. A few days later, Biden was seen on video at a skydiving demonstration at the G7, in which he appeared to wander off before Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni spotted him and nudged him back to the group. Following his G7 trip, Biden attended a campaign event where he once again appeared to freeze. Former President Barack Obama appeared to respond by grabbing the president by the wrist and leading him off stage.

The White House responded to the clips, claiming that outlets and social media accounts such as the New York Post and the Republican National Committee (RNC) had edited and cropped the clips to make the president look bad.

“It was a cheap — you know, a cheap fake.  That was definitely a cheap fake. It was. This was widely fact-checked. That video was widely fact-checked, including by conservative media, on — on what had — what happened that — what occurred,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said about the clip of the president at the G7.

With concerns about Biden’s fitness for office on the rise, some political observers told the Daily Caller they were considering whether the bar has been set too low for Biden ahead of the debate. (RELATED: ‘Keep The Bar Off The Floor’: Low Expectations Won’t Save Biden From Sleepy Debate Performance, Observers Say)

“I think our side has to make sure that we keep the bar off the floor because right now, merely showing up is a win [for Biden],” Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary and host of the Sean Spicer podcast, told the Daily Caller. “This is a guy who’s been in politics for 50 years, and we need to remind everybody, including journalists, that he prides himself on being a strong debater. And I actually think that, just like State of the Union, they will, they will do what’s necessary to get him ready and rested.”

Trump himself has appeared to raise the bar for Biden ahead of Thursday’s debate.

“All I can say is this. I watched him with Paul Ryan, and he destroyed Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan with the water. He was chugging water outta left and right. I didn’t think a human being would be able to drink so much water at one time. And he beat Paul Ryan,” Trump said on “The All-In Podcast.” “So, I’m not underestimating him. It is what it is. Uh, we’ll see happens.”