Speaking to a crowd of supporters at Williamsburg International Airport in Newport News, Virginia, Trump said that he expects his general election opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, to perform well.
“He’s been doing it for 47 years, I think he’s going to do good,” Trump said, predicting that the “fake news” media will praise Biden’s performance even if he does “just okay.”
“And one thing we know, if he does just okay, just okay, they’re going to say, the fake news, they’re going to say it was the single greatest debate performance in history.”
Trump stressed that if his opponent “does well they’re going to say it’s the greatest debate performance, and they have it already written.”
Biden has repeatedly said that he is looking forward to debating Trump.
During a campaign event in North Carolina earlier this week, the former Delaware senator said that he is “an old athlete, and I’m used to dealing with bullies.”
In recent days, Trump has seemingly been trying to lower expectations for himself, praising Biden as an experienced and skilled debater.
In an interview with radio host Brian Kilmeade on Thursday, he said that the Democratic nominee has a “tremendous advantage” because of his experience.
The first debate is scheduled for Tuesday and it will take place in Cleveland, Ohio. The event will be moderated by veteran anchor Chris Wallace.
The president has already complained about Wallace, saying that he will be treated unfairly and that he expects the moderator to pose softball questions to Biden.
“He will ask tough questions of me and it will be unfair, I have no doubt about it,” he told Kilmeade.
Trump’s praise for Biden represents a significant departure from his campaign’s strategy. The president’s allies have spent months trying to paint Biden as incompetent, going as far as to claim that he is suffering from dementia.
Even Trump has attempted to cast doubt on his opponent’s cognitive abilities, recently alleging that he is being drugged with mind-enhancing substances before public appearances.
Although Biden has signaled confidence, some Democrats have argued that it would be better for him to skip the debates.
Notably, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that there is no point in debating Trump because he does not tell the truth.
In addition, some insiders are reportedly concerned about Biden’s tendency to make gaffes and go on tangents.