Trump campaign plays up Biden’s skills ahead of Cleveland debate: ‘He’s actually quite good’

The Trump campaign attempted to play up the debate abilities of Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll GOP set to release controversial Biden report Can Donald Trump maintain new momentum until this November? MORE with the first debate in less than 10 days.

With the first presidential debates slated for Sept. 29 in Cleveland, the Trump campaign’s communications director on Monday told Fox News that the former vice president “knows his way” around the debate stage after 47 years in politics.

“Joe Biden has been a Washington politician for 47 years, he spent decades in the Senate where all they do is debate, he was vice president twice, and debated on the national stage in each of those races, and did very well,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in an appearance on “Fox & Friends First.”

“In the Democrat primaries, he debated a whole crowd of opponents, 11 times, and he won,” Murtaugh noted. “He bested two dozen Democrat challengers.”

Biden “knows his way around the debate stage,” Murtaugh later said. “He knows how to do it. He’s actually quite good. That’s the Joe Biden we expect to see on debate night. … We have to be prepared for the tuned-in Joe Biden.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE also said he expects Biden to perform well because he’s a “professional” and “can debate.” 

“I don’t know if he’s all there, but I think he’s a professional,” Trump said in a phone call later on Monday on “Fox & Friends.”

“I have to assume that he is a professional and that he can debate,” Trump said, adding he believes Biden “is going to do great.”

Trump has previously said he thought Biden was “incompetent” in the early Democratic primary debates and called for Biden to be drug tested before the first presidential debate, citing Biden’s performance in a one-on-one debate with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She ‘will forever have two legacies’ Two GOP governors urge Republicans to hold off on Supreme Court nominee Sanders knocks McConnell: He’s going against Ginsburg’s ‘dying wishes’ MORE (I-Vt.) in March.

“We are going to call for a drug test,” Trump told the Washington Examiner on Aug. 26. “I don’t know how he could have been so incompetent in his debate performances and then all of a sudden be OK against Bernie Sanders.”

Fox News anchor Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBattle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight Sunday shows – Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death dominates Chris Wallace presses Cotton on ‘any hypocrisy’ between comments on Supreme Court vacancy in 2016 and today MORE will moderate the Sept. 29 debate in Cleveland.

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