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September 29, 2020

Debate Camp: Biden’s Basement Has Been Put To Use For Weeks Of Debate Prep

Key Takeaways
  • Biden may have participated in more political debates than any modern Presidential nominee, having taken part in at least 38 candidate debates since 1972

    • During this campaign alone, Biden has already taken part in 11 debates

  • Biden began preparing for tonight’s debate weeks ago

  • Biden is known for undergoing extensive debate preparation

  • Regardless of his performance, Biden can always count on the media to give him positive reviews after a debate

    • Reporters have repeatedly described Biden as a “seasoned” and “sharp” debater with decades of experience on the campaign trail and in the Senate

    • During the 2020 Democrat presidential primaries, the media applauded Biden for having “dominated” and for having “his best debate ever

    • In the 2012 vice presidential debate, Biden was described as having “shredded” Paul Ryan

    • During the 2008 presidential race, Biden was referred to as a “sharp” debater, with his strong performance even reportedly having inspired Obama to choose Biden as his VP

THE MEDIA SEES BIDEN AS A “SEASONED” AND “SHARP” DEBATER WITH DECADES OF EXPERIENCE

The Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Biden Is A Seasoned Debater.” (Peter Nicholas And Patrick O’Connor, “Biden And Ryan To Take Center Stage,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/11/12)

Reuters: Biden Is “A Seasoned Debater” (Thomas Ferraro, “Joe Biden Must Walk A Fine Line Facing Sarah Palin,” Reuters, 9/4/08)

The Columbus Dispatch: Biden Is “A Seasoned Debater.” (“Analysis: Folsky Palin Charms; Seasoned Biden Shines,” The Columbus Dispatch [Columbus, OH], 10/3/08)

The Guardian: Biden Is A “Demonstrably Skilled Debater” With A “Sparkling” Wit. (Elana Schor, “Joe Biden: Profile,” The Guardian, 8/23/08)

CNN: Biden Has “Reputation For Being A Sharp Debater.”  (“McCain Campaign: Clinton Did Not Say Obama Ready To Lead,” CNN, 8/27/08)

Los Angeles Times: Biden “Spent More Than 30 Years” In The U.S. Senate, The “Greatest Deliberative Body” In Washington. “‘But he also spent more than 30 years in the Senate, which is often referred to in Washington as the greatest deliberative body.” (Lisa Mascaro, “Paul Ryan Vs. Joe Biden Debate Night Prep Underway,” Los Angeles Times, 8/31/12)

BIDEN PREFERS DEBATE PREP TO CAMPAIGNING

In 2012, The Washington Post Reported That Biden Had “Not Been Taking Lightly His Preparations For Debate” Against Paul Ryan, Holding Practice Sessions And Studying Briefing Books For Months. “Vice President Biden, a man with nearly four decades of experience in politics, has not been taking lightly his preparations for his debate against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), holding practice sessions and perusing briefing books in recent months.” (Felicia Sonmez, “Expectations Run High For Biden-Ryan Debate,” The Washington Post, 10/6/12)

In 2012, Biden Took A Week Off The Campaign Trail To “Undergo Intense Debate Coaching.” “For weeks Ryan has been training for the debate against Biden, who first ran for president when Ryan was just barely out of high school. For debate prep, Mitt Romney's campaign tapped a seasoned litigator, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, to play Biden. And Ryan spends much of his limited time off these days with his nose in research books the campaign prepared, say Romney aides. Biden, too, has been getting in fighting shape, taking a week off the campaign trail to undergo intense debate coaching.” (Chris Moody, “In The Ring With Ryan: What It’s Like To Debate The VP Candidate,” Yahoo News, 10/11/12)

Biden Started Preparing For Tonight’s Debate Weeks Ago

In August 2020, Biden Told ABC News’ David Muir That He Was Prepping For The Debates Already: “I Can Hardly Wait.” ABC NEWS DAVID MUIR: “The President said he’s already prepping for the debates.” JOE BIDEN: “So am I. I can hardly wait.” (Alisa Wiersema, “Biden Tells ABC's David Muir He 'Can Hardly Wait' For Fall Debates,” ABC News, 8/23/20)

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On September 2, 2020, Biden Said That He Had Already “Begun To Prepare” And Was “Looking Forward To Debating The President.” JOE BIDEN: “I’ve begun to prepare by going over what the president has said, multiple lies he’s told. What I’d love to have is a crawler at the bottom of the screen, a fact checker when we speak. If we really wanted to do something, I think that would make a great, great debate if everything both of us said was instantly fact checked by an agreed-to group of people out there. But that probably wouldn’t get very far in the debate. I’m looking forward to debating the president, and I’m going to lay out as clearly as I can what I think we have to do to bring this country back and build it back better. I’m looking forward to the debate.” (MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” 9/2/20)

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By Mid-September, Biden Had Been Preparing For The Debates For “Weeks.” “Biden has been preparing for the first debate with Trump over the past few weeks in Wilmington. In a fundraiser last week, Biden offered a glimpse of his thinking going into the debate later this month. The former vice president said he had one main goal in taking on Trump: ‘I hope I don’t take the bait.’” (Amie Parnes, “Democrats On Edge As Biden Readies To Go After Trump At Debate,” The Hill, 9/18/20)

  • Biden “Huddl[ed] With A Small Group Of Advisors” And Planned Lines Of Attack Against President Trump. “For his part, Biden is huddling with a small group of advisors in Wilmington, Del. The former vice president plans to attack Trump’s leadership as unsteady, challenge the president’s repeated falsehoods, and contrast his own experience in a crisis.” (Noah Bierman And Eli Stokols, “Biden Is Prepping For First Debate. Trump Is Watching TV News And Testing Attack Lines,” Los Angeles Times, 9/23/20)

  • Biden Said That He Was Preparing For The Debates By Studying President Trump’s Past Comments. “Joe Biden says he’s begun preparing for presidential debates that begin later this month by studying President Donald Trump’s past comments. ‘I haven’t been doing mock debates very much but I’ve been just making sure that I understand all that he has said and hasn’t said,’ the Democratic presidential candidate told reporters as he prepared to fly back to his home state of Delaware on Tuesday night, after an event marking the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in Orlando, Florida.” (“The Latest: Pre-Debate, Biden Studying Trump’s Past Comments,” Associated Press, 9/15/20)

  • Ron Klain, Who Is Running Debate Prep For Biden, Said That Biden Enjoys Reading Research Briefings And Having “Aides Fire Questions At Him.” “Klain ran Clinton’s debate prep, and he’s doing it again this year for Joe Biden. Klain has a rule against discussing the process, but he did tell me that no one is going to be putting on the outfit this year. The former vice president doesn’t like mock debates—he prefers to read research briefings and have a collection of aides fire questions at him.” (Edward-Isaac Dovere, “The Debates Could Seal Biden’s Fate,” The Atlantic, 9/22/20)

Biden Did The Same Thing For The 2020 Democratic Primary Debates

In 2019, Biden Read Briefing Books Daily And Worked “With A Team Of Democratic Veterans” In Preparation For The Democratic Primary Debates. “Former Vice President Joe Biden is shifting his focus to his campaign’s next crucial moment — the first Democratic debates, which will take place two weeks from now in Miami. Biden is reading briefing books daily in preparation for the televised showdown, and working with a team of Democratic veterans including longtime allies and Obama administration alumni. ‘There's some prep happening most days, even when he is on the road,’ said one source close to Biden.  The diligence is necessary given that Biden, as the clear front-runner, will have a target on his back. Other candidates know that one way to create a stir and boost their profiles is to take him on.” (Niall Stanage, “Inside Biden’s Preparations For First Debate,” The Hill, 6/13/19)

  • Biden Kept An “Ultra-Light Schedule” During The Democratic Primaries To “Create More Time For Debate Prep.” “Biden has told friends that part of the reason for sticking to an ultra-light schedule is to create more time for debate prep, which for him tends to be less about conducting mock sessions and role-playing than digging into briefing books. This will likely hold: Biden’s aides are not convinced that any kind of interaction he’d have at a town hall or other event is comparable to what’s awaiting him onstage.” (Edward-Isaac Dovere, “Joe Biden Has Most To Lose At The Debates,” The Atlantic, 6/5/19)

  • In June 2019, Senator Chris Coons Said That Biden “Prepares, Prepares, Prepares.” “’One thing about Joe Biden: He prepares, prepares, prepares, whether it’s for a Sunday-show interview, a speech at the United Nations, or a debate against another candidate,’ Coons said.” (Edward-Isaac Dovere, “Joe Biden Has Most To Lose At The Debates,” The Atlantic, 6/5/19)

Biden Blocked Off Time For “Comprehensive Debate Prep,” Including Reading Through Briefing Books And Participating In Question And Answer Sessions. “As he readies to take center stage at the first Democratic primary debate in Miami, the former vice president hunkered down with advisers in Delaware this week for ‘comprehensive’ debate prep, which has included holding mock debates, a source familiar with his preparations said. For weeks, Biden has blocked off time for debate prep on his schedule while on and off the campaign trail, according to sources familiar with his preparations, reading through briefing books and participating in question and answer sessions.” (Arlette Saenz, “Joe Biden Takes Stage With More Debate Experience Than His Opponents,” CNN, 7/27/19)

  • Biden Ramped Up His Debate Prep With What His Team Describes As “Debate Camp.” “But preparations picked up in earnest this week with Biden and his advisers huddling for several days for what his team describes as ‘debate camp.’ Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who stood in as Palin in Biden's debate prep for the 2008 vice presidential debate, is among those helping Biden prepare, one source said, adding Granholm can't endorse a candidate due to her role as chair of American Bridge. ‘I am preparing and basically looking at less about what the other people are for or against and trying to figure out how I can get to the place where I can communicate to the American people what I believe, why I'm running and why it's important,’ Biden told reporters in Eldridge, Iowa, earlier this month.” (Arlette Saenz, “Joe Biden Takes Stage With More Debate Experience Than His Opponents,” CNN, 7/27/19)

BIDEN HAS TAKEN PART IN AT LEAST 38 CANDIDATE DEBATES DURING HIS FIVE DECADES IN POLITICS

2020 Democrat Primaries: 11 Debates

2012 Vice Presidential Debate: 1 Debate

2008 Vice Presidential Debate:  1 Debate

2008 Democrat Primaries: 13 Debates

2002 Senate Campaign: 1 Debate

1996 Senate Campaign: 1 Debate

1992 Legal Issues And The Presidential Campaign: 1 Debate

1990 Senate Campaign: 1 Debate.

1988 Democratic Primaries: 3 Debates

1984 Senate Campaign: 1 Debate

1978 Senate Campaign: 2 Debates  

1972 Senate Campaign: 2 Debates

REGARDLESS OF HIS PERFORMANCE, THE MEDIA GIVES BIDEN POSITIVE REVIEWS

2020 Democratic Presidential Primaries

In March 2020, CNN Gave Joe Biden An “A” For His Debate Performance, Calling It “His Best Debate Ever.” “Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of his previous debates, former Vice President Joe Biden met one of the most pivotal moments of his career with his best debate ever. Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders fell flat, failing to rise to the occasion. Amid the novel coronavirus crisis that has gripped the nation -- and the world -- the two Democratic presidential contenders were grilled on how they would handle the pandemic and while Biden was ready with strong, thoughtful responses, Sanders left much to be desired on the debate stage.” (Todd Graham,  “Debate Coach: Biden Had His Best Night To Date,” CNN, 3/16/20)

In March 2020, Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh Said That Biden “Dominated” His Debate Against Senator Bernie Sanders. “Biden dominated not because he claimed the evening’s easy headlines with his announcement that he would pick a woman as his running mate — why, who would have guessed? — and nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Rather, he dominated because, in a time when the coronavirus crisis has a frightened country desperate for competent leadership, Biden demonstrated that he knows what must be done now in the struggle to contain the contagion and what will be required in the future to help hard-pressed Americans keep their lives and families more or less intact.” (Scot Lehigh, “Biden’s Convincing Debate Performance,” Boston Globe, 3/16/20)

In December 2019, MSNBC Political Analyst Karine Jean-Pierre Said That Biden Had His Best Night Talking About Foreign Policy And The Economy: “He Showed The Biden That So Many Were Hoping To See.” POLITICAL ANALYST KARINE JEANE-PIERRE: “He had his best night last night. That was definitely clear. Even talking about foreign policy, the economy, he showed the Biden that so many of us were hoping to see.” (MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," 12/20/19)

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Biden Got Glowing Praise From The Press For His 2012 Vice Presidential Debate

In October 2012, Biden Received Effusive Praise For His Vice Presidential Debate Against Paul Ryan: “He Was Priest To Paul Ryan’s Flummoxed Altar Boy, Scoutmaster To Ryan’s Nervous, Tongue-Tied Knot-Tier.” “So it made no sense to me to think that he would do anything other than his level best in last night’s debate at Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky. And within the opening minutes, it was clear that he had. He was priest to Paul Ryan’s flummoxed altar boy, scoutmaster to Ryan’s nervous, tongue-tied knot-tier. His smile veered—yes—between amused and condescending, depending on the honey or vinegar with which he referred to Ryan as ‘my friend.’” (Saul Loeb, “Say What You Will About Biden…” Vanity Fair, 10/12/12)

Business Insider: “Joe Biden Shredded Paul Ryan In The Vice Presidential Debate.” “A CBS instant poll of undecided voters taken immediately after tonight's vice presidential debate found that Vice President Joe Biden handily beat Republican hopeful Paul Ryan among a group of undecided voters.” (Brett LoGiurato, “INSTANT POLL: Joe Biden Shredded Paul Ryan In The Vice Presidential Debate,” Business Insider, 10/11/12)

Jake Tapper Said That Despite Biden’s Age, “Obviously Joe Biden Came Ready To Play” And That “Democrats Will Be Energized.” ABC’s JAKE TAPPER: “Well the Obama Campaign says that they feel that Vice President Biden did the forceful job he needs to do. A top Democrat that I had spoken with earlier was worried that the age difference would play poorly for the Vice President, being 69, that he feared that he would seem tired. Obviously, Vice President Biden came ready to play… Democrats will be energized by the Vice-President’s performance this evening, they’ll be excited, and it tees up President Obama well.” (ABC News, 10/12/12)

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The Guardian: “Joe Biden's Alpha-Male Display Leaves Paul Ryan Overwhelmed In VP Debate.” “In the normal course of events, vice-presidential debates, much like vice-presidents themselves, don't particularly matter. And this may well prove to be the case with Thursday night's confrontation in Kentucky. But if it is, it won't be for lack of trying on the part of Joe Biden, whose high-energy performance – part angry bar-room debater, part condescending elder uncle, part comic mime artist – frequently seemed to leave Paul Ryan overwhelmed. On more than one occasion, the Republican candidate visibly gulped. It's dispiriting, of course, that political discourse should have been reduced to such displays of alpha-male dominance, but there were times when the debate might have benefited from a whispering David Attenborough voiceover: ‘And so the victorious older male, having bared his cosmetically enhanced teeth, stalks away, muttering: 'With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey …'" (Oliver Burkeman, “Joe Biden’s Alpha Male Display Leaves Paul Ryan Overwhelmed In VP Debate,” The Guardian, 10/12/12)

BuzzFeed News’ Editor-In-Chief Ben Smith: Joe Biden “Dominated” Paul Ryan, “Hammering” Him “Again And Again” Throughout The Debate. “Vice President Joe Biden dominated Thursday's Vice Presidential debate, hammering Rep. Paul Ryan again and again during his portion of the night while his laughs, smirks, chuckles, cackles and hand-gestures overwhelmed Ryan's more understated jabs.” (Ben Smith, “Biden Dominates Debate,” BuzzFeed News, 10/11/12)

In 2012, ABC’s Good Morning America Called Joe Biden’s 2012 Vice Presidential Debate Performance “Dominant.” ABC REPORTER: “Biden was often dominant, maybe a little too dominant.” (ABC’s “Good Morning America,” 10/12/12)

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The Press Lauded Biden For His 2008 Debate Performance

Biden’s Performance In The 2007 Democratic Debates Was One Of The Reasons Then-Candidate Barack Obama Choose Him As His Vice Presidential Nominee. “Against Sarah Palin in a 2008 vice presidential debate, Biden deftly navigated the challenges of an unconventional rival. When the stakes were high against Paul Ryan in 2012 after Obama flubbed his first head-to-head against Romney, Biden again came through. ‘Is he capable of delivering? Yes. There was a lot on the line, we needed a circuit breaker and he did the job,’ said Axelrod, who added that Biden’s strong debate performances in the 2008 Democratic primary were one of the reasons Obama chose him for the ticket. ‘” (Natasha Korecki, “‘He Realizes Now That He Screwed Up’: Biden Scrambles To Recover From Debate Flop, Politico, 7/29/19)

The Guardian’s Lola Adesioye: Biden’s Debate Performance “Showed Why He’s In A Different Class.” “True, the governor of Alaska did better than many people expected. But Joe Biden showed why he's in a different class…There is no doubt that this debate was an all-out win for Joe Biden, who came across as a political heavyweight, affirming – to me, at least – that Sarah Palin, who is in no way, shape or form ready to be vice-president.” (Lola Adesioye,, “No Debate, Biden Won,” The Guardian, 10/3/08)

The New York Times: Biden’s Debate Performance “Left Ms. Palin Way Behind On Most Issues,” And Showed “A Clear Grasp Of The Big Picture And The Details.” “Senator Biden did well, avoiding one of his own infamous gaffes, while showing a clear grasp of the big picture and the details. He left Ms. Palin way behind on most issues, especially foreign policy and national security, where she just seemed lost. It was in those moments that her lack of experience two terms as mayor of a tiny Anchorage suburb and less than two years as governor was most painfully evident.”(“The Vice-Presidential Debate,” The New York Times, 10/2/08)

CBS News’ Bob Schieffer: The 2008 Vice Presidential Debate Was A “Very Good Night” For Joe Biden. CBS NEWS’ KATIE COURIC: “And, Bob, you know, most people were grading this debate on a curve. Did that make things tougher for Joe Biden, in your view? CBS NEWS’ CHIEFFER: “I think actually it was a very good night for Joe Biden. I think he came off well, as you saw in that poll. People thought more of both of them after this debate. I would give this debate to Joe Biden on points, but I think Republicans are breathing a great sigh of relief. They’ll take what they got last night.” COURIC: “All right. Bob Schieffer and Jeff Greenfield, as always, great to talk to both of you. Thank you.” (CBS News’ “CBS Evening News,” 10/3/08)

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