President Donald Trump reportedly spent less than two hours preparing for his debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday night. The two are squaring off for their first official debate in the 2020 presidential election, but a source close to Trump told CNN that the president was not interested in practicing. Instead, Trump is reportedly relying on his instincts.
Trump staffers prepared flashcards, sample questions and a binder full of preparatory material for Tuesday night's debate, the insider said. However, Trump repeatedly brushed his aides off when they tried to block out time for this prep, saying that the daily duties of the presidency were too demanding. The source said that Trump had one 30-minute debate prep session last weekend — perhaps the longest in a series of "sporadic bursts." Trump has reportedly been preoccupied throughout this process.
The Trump campaign is also under fire for one of the friends brought on board to help prepare the president: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie is a correspondent for ABC News and will be covering Tuesday night's debate on their behalf, so many critics questioned if it was ethical for him to take part in these preparations.
Either way, Trump reportedly did not get very far in prep sessions with either Christie or with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. In both cases, the source said he was sidetracked, often changing the subject to different issues. He had trouble keeping his talking points straight when it comes to the bombshell revelations in his tax filings, published this weekend by The New York Times.
Aides have reportedly struggled to get Trump to embrace one consistent response to the controversies in his tax returns. The president vacillates between outright denying the report and attacking the Times for publishing it. He also claims falsely that the information in the report was obtained illegally, suggesting that it is legitimate and contradicting himself.
At the time of this writing, Trump is reportedly trailing behind Biden in overall polls about the 2020 presidential election. With many Americans casting their votes early due to coronavirus restrictions, this last-minute debate may be essential for Trump's hope of success in November.
Trump's aides are reportedly counting on the debate to energize Trump's most loyal supporters and are hoping that Trump's personal attacks on Biden will dampen the enthusiasm among Biden's supporters. The debate begins live at 9 p.m. ET on CBS News and most major news networks.