(Headline USA) President Donald Trump shunned formal debate practice Tuesday and was heading instead for another of his big rallies, two days ahead of the final presidential debate.
Democrat Joe Biden took the opposite approach, holing up for “debate prep,” according to his campaign.
Trump is increasingly relying on his signature campaign rallies to deliver a closing message to voters and maximize turnout among his GOP base.
Trump’s team is calling for a more in-depth focus on foreign policy in the debate, believing it to be a strong suit for the incumbent, but there is not expected to be any shift away from the announced topics, which include a segment devoted to national security.
Trump was to hold a rally Tuesday evening in Erie, Pennsylvania, a part of the state instrumental in his victory four years ago, when he was the first GOP candidate since Ronald Reagan to carry the county.
Erie County, which includes the aging industrial city in the state’s northwest corner, went for President Barack Obama by five points in 2012 but broke for Trump by two in 2016. That swing, fueled by Trump’s success with white, working class voters, was replicated in small cities and towns and rural areas and helped him overcome Hillary Clinton’s victories in the state’s big cities.
Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, was holding tele-rallies meant to boost vulnerable Republican Senate and House candidates, and he was leading a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force.
Before leaving the White House, Trump was taping an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” and a town hall with local news conglomerate Sinclair that will air on Wednesday.
Before the debate, the president grumbled that he’d be at a disadvantage to his challenger.
“I just think it’s very unfair,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned from Arizona on Monday evening. “I will participate, but it’s very unfair that they changed the topics and it’s very unfair that, again, we have an anchor who’s totally biased.”
As Trump was on the road, Biden huddled at his lakeside home in Wilmington, Delaware, with senior adviser Ron Klain, who is in charge of debate preparation, and a group of aides.
Biden, who taped his own interview with “60 Minutes” on Monday at a theater near his home, has no public events on Tuesday or Wednesday and wasn’t scheduled to travel except to the debate itself on Thursday. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris was out campaigning, and he was expected to receive a late boost from former President Obama, who was to host an event Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Biden is now tested about every two days for the coronavirus and has never been found to be positive. He suggested before last week’s planned second debate in Miami that the proceedings shouldn’t happen if Trump was still testing positive for COVID-19 after contracting the virus earlier in the month.
Biden has been tightlipped about his preparation for the Nashville debate, saying only that he has focused on watching Trump’s past statements on key issues. Biden’s advisers see the final debate as a chance to discuss foreign policy, which they, too, see as one of their candidate’s strengths. Biden has praised the Trump administration for helping to broker deals that the Gulf states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed recognizing Israel, but otherwise has accused the president of shunning allies and making foreign relations more volatile at most points around the globe.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.