Two weeks ago, the commander-in-chief allegedly met with a group of his closest advisers in his Bedminster golf club to discuss debating Biden.
White House adviser Jared Kushner, senior adviser Jason Miller, campaign manager Bill Stepien and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are thought to have been present at the meeting.
In 2016, Christie helped Trump prepare by role-playing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This year, he is reportedly likely to role-play Biden.
According to individuals close to Trump, he has privately said that Christie “was better than Hillary” and “harder to debate than Hillary” four years ago.
A source familiar with the meeting said that the group has agreed to meet at least every 10 days, agreeing to bring in “different people based on subject matter expertise.”
In private conversations, Trump has discussed the importance of winning a debate vs. Biden, a source told Axios.
“I don’t think he [Trump] sees the debates as the last inflection points, but potentially the most important. I think he always thinks he can create an inflection point. But he has verbalized how important these are going to be. He’s said, ‘We gotta win. The press will never give me the credit for it, but the people will.'”
Several sources close to the campaign told the publication that the president’s team does not believe Biden will subject himself to contentious interviews, which is why the onstage clashes are seen as crucial.
Miller, Christie and others have allegedly warned Trump not to underestimate Biden, who is considered an experienced and competent debater.
In a recent interview, Miller said that the Democratic nominee is “actually a very good debater” who “doesn’t have as many gaffes as he does in his everyday interviews.”
Team Trump has pressured the Commission on Presidential Debates to choose moderators from a list compiled by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. However, the commission has allegedly pushed back against the demands, and plans on selecting the moderators on its own.
The latest polling suggests that Trump is trailing Biden, nationwide and in key swing states. In a CBS survey, Trump trailed Biden in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In both states, Biden was 6 percentage points ahead of the commander-in-chief.
Per the RealClearPolitics average of polling data, Trump is 6.4 points behind the Democrat nationwide.