Donald Trump’s team has consistently described Joe Biden as unable to speak, much less hold a debate. In tweets, rally speeches, and memes the president and his family and surrogates have mocked the Democratic nominee. Trump has even repeatedly accused his challenger of using drugs to be able to speak clearly. Now, as the first debate draws near, the script is flipping, with Trump’s team declaring Biden a formidable opponent who will hold his own in public debates.
Joe Biden would never even appear at a debate, Trump’s team initially claimed. Don Jr. tweeted in March to suggest that Las Vegas should open betting on whether to not the Democratic candidate would show up, if a debate was scheduled. In August, he followed up, declaring that Joe Biden can’t debate Donald Trump, and certainly can’t take on China or Russia.
Yikes!!! Out of 25 candidates, Dems nominee can’t even debate his opponent. If Biden can’t debate @realDonaldTrump how could he possibly stand up to Russia or China?
That’s right, he couldn’t and wouldn’t! https://t.co/aOCG9TWy5H
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 3, 2020
Trump accused Biden of using drugs earlier this month, saying, “I don’t know how you can go from being so bad where you can’t even get out a sentence — I mean, you saw some of those debates with the large number of people on the stage. He was, I mean, I used to say how was it possible that he can even go forward?”
"I think there's probably, possibly drugs involved. That's what I hear." — during interview with Judge Jeanine, Trump casually accuses Joe Biden of using performance enhancing drugs pic.twitter.com/RVWJMqPNhn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 11, 2020
As recently as last month, Trump’s Director of Communications, Tim Murtaugh, hinted that Biden was avoiding having debates before voting began.
So let me get this straight.
Joe Biden is fine with a state upending its entire voting system 90 days before an election even though we saw the train wreck in NYC.
But you don't dare move the date of a debate to before people actually start voting.
Do I have that about right?
— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) August 6, 2020
Now, however, with the first debate barely a week away, the Trump campaign team is shifting to prepare their base for a different set of expectations, the reports.
Trump has changed his public stance significantly, from declaring (without completing a coherent sentence) that Biden cannot complete a sentence, to saying, ““I have to assume that [Biden] is a professional and that he can debate.”
Murtaugh too, is tweeting a different tune, not only appearing on Fox News to declare Joe Biden a capable opponent who “knows his way around the debate stage,” but following the interview with a tweet, quoting the article and emphasizing the depiction of a “tuned in” Joe Biden.
“The Trump campaign says they are expecting a ‘tuned in’ Joe Biden during the first presidential debate next Tuesday, casting the former vice president as a seasoned politician who ‘knows his way’ around the debate stage.”https://t.co/vBzEscGvbh
— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) September 22, 2020
“In the Democratic primaries, he debated a whole crowd of opponents, 11 times, and he won. He bested two dozen Democrat challengers,” warns Murtaugh.
Trump has continued to depict his opponent as “hiding in his basement,” even to false claims about his opponent’s travel. CNN reported last month on multiple photos of Biden shared by Trump’s campaign, deceptively edited and falsely labeled as basement images, though one was actually at an outdoor campaign event, and another was at a house party before COVID-19 social distancing rules were in effect. Biden has traveled and visited Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina, while Trump continued to assert that the Democratic nominee hadn’t left his basement.
After months of claiming that Joe Biden was incompetent, incapable of completing a sentence, and unable to leave his basement, the obvious question is, why is Trump’s campaign suddenly changing their message now? The first debate is scheduled for next Tuesday.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com