Trump Tries to Shift Debate Expectations in Bizarre Fashion

Donald Trump Holds Rally In Pennsylvania

Photo: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Donald Trump has hurled many insults at his Democratic rival, President Joe Biden, in an attempt to see what sticks. He’s tried to paint Biden as so feeble that he’s in need of a cognitive test and also as the mastermind of a deep government conspiracy against Trump’s political campaign.

Over the weekend, Trump pivoted back to a line he hadn’t employed in a while, suggesting that Biden will use drugs to enhance his performance. “Right now, Crooked Joe’s gone to a log cabin to study, to prepare. No, he’s sleeping now cause they want to get him good and strong. So, a little before debate time, he gets a shot in the ass. They want to strengthen him up,” he said during a Saturday rally at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. “I say, he’ll come out all jacked up.”

Trump took it a step further and suggested with no evidence that Biden could be using illegal substances, pointing to the small amount of cocaine that was discovered in the White House complex last summer. “Whatever happened to all that cocaine that was missing a month ago from the White House?” he mused.

On Monday, Trump raised the idea of the two of them being tested for drugs. “DRUG TEST FOR CROOKED JOE BIDEN??? I WOULD, ALSO, IMMEDIATELY AGREE TO ONE!!!,” he posted on social media.

It’s a distinct change in tactic that suggests that Trump and his team are wary of setting the bar too low for Biden ahead of their long-anticipated showdown. But it’s not new. Before Biden’s State of the Union in February, Republicans made a point of lowering expectations, pointing to the president’s age and energy levels. In contrast, Biden ultimately gave a strong, full-throated, and at times combative speech that was largely well-received by pundits. Trump would later allege the president was on drugs during the primetime address. He’s previously suggested a drug test for Biden during the 2020 debates and for his opponent Hillary Clinton over their 2016 face-offs.

Aside from floating unverified allegations, Trump did acknowledge that he would soon be facing an experienced debater in Biden. During an appearance on the All-In podcast last week, Trump made reference to Biden’s lauded debate performance against Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan in 2012, saying he “destroyed” Ryan. “I assume he’s going to be somebody that will be a worthy debater. I don’t want to underestimate him,” he said.

The two candidates have taken a fair number of shots at the other while working out the scheduling of their future debates. In a video message in May, Biden tried to bait Trump into agreeing to two one-on-one debates, quipping that he heard he was free on Wednesdays, a reference to Trump’s court schedule for his hush-money trial.

Trump agreed to debate Biden in June and September, responding in a TruthSocial post, “Crooked Joe Biden is the WORST debater I have ever faced – He can’t put two sentences together!”

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