Trump gears up for first presidential debate with policy session in DC

Following his meetings with congressional lawmakers Thursday, former President Donald Trump spent time at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, participating in what two advisers are calling a policy discussion with a small group of advisers and Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Eric Schmitt of Missouri.

Among the topics discussed were democracy and how to respond to the inevitable questions regarding the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, including Trump’s response to the riot incited by his supporters that day.

While Trump’s team insists that the meeting was not “debate prep,” an adviser to the former president acknowledged that these kind of sessions will ultimately be helpful when Trump faces off against President Joe Biden for their first debate, which will be hosted by CNN in Atlanta on June 27.

The New York Times first reported on the policy discussion.

Advisers are wary of using the words “debate prep” when it comes to Trump, instead pointing to various interviews and events as examples of how the former president is gearing up to take Biden on, including taking questions from friendly audience members at a recent event.

“President Trump takes on numerous tough interviews every single week and delivers lengthy rally speeches while standing, demonstrating elite stamina,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller, who is running point on Trump’s efforts in advance of the debate, said in a statement.

The upcoming Atlanta debate between Biden and Trump – which is less than two weeks away – will mark a historically early showdown that will set the tone for the final months of the 2024 campaign.

The pair have also accepted an invitation from ABC to debate for a second time on September 10.

According to a news release from CNN, the June 27 debate will be held in the network’s Atlanta studios with no audience present – an anomaly in debates between presidential candidates. The first televised presidential debates, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960, occurred in television studios with no live audience present. Debates did not take place again until the 1976 election, and from then on took place in front of live audiences who were instructed to not make noise aside from the beginning and ends of the debate.

CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate the network’s debate.

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