WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Joe Biden has said he’d “beat the hell out of” President Donald Trump over his comments about women if they were in high school. But on the debate stage, as opponents for the presidency, it’s a different story.
When Biden and Trump meet in their first presidential debate later this month, Biden says he has one goal: “I hope I don’t take the bait.”
“I hope I don’t get baited into a brawl with this guy, because that’s the only place he’s comfortable,” Biden said Thursday during a fundraiser.
His comments offer a hint at how the former vice president is looking at the upcoming debate on September 29, in Cleveland, Ohio. Biden has previously said he plans to be a “fact checker” on the debate stage, and hold Trump accountable for any misstatements or falsehoods. But on Thursday night, Biden said that “people know what a liar” Trump is.
“This is a guy who is absolutely tasteless. Completely tasteless. So pointing it out doesn’t do much,” he said.
But Biden acknowledged that he expects the president to “say awful things about me and my family” during the debate to try to get a rise out of him — and the debate is almost certain to feature clashes about the two candidates’ families, as such attacks have been central themes that have already played out on the campaign trail.
The Trump campaign in particular has targeted Biden’s son Hunter for his ties to Chinese and Ukranian companies. And Biden has grown visibly angry at events in recent days about Trump’s reported comments calling fallen Marines “suckers” and “losers,” speaking about his son Beau, who served in the Delaware Army National Guard. Beau Biden died from brain cancer in 2015. And Democrats often criticize Trump for the use of his children in government positions and policy negotiations, as well as the financial benefit his family’s business has seen from the presidency.
While Biden said he doesn’t want to get baited by Trump, he did express confidence that “I know how to handle bullies.”
But Biden suggested his strategy in the debate will be focused more on drawing a contrast with Trump on competency and policy, and offering Americans an alternative to the Trump presidency.
“The place he is most uncomfortable is on the facts. The place he’s most uncomfortable is in the area of what he’s going to do. The place he’s most uncomfortable is knowing the policy. He’s one of the most ill-informed presidents substantively that I’ve ever worked with,” Biden said.
Biden added: “Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. I plan to tell them who I am.”