After weeks and months of President Donald Trump characterizing former Vice President Joe Biden as an senile old man who can’t string two sentences together, his campaign has finally realized that they should start raising expectations for his performance at the first debate this Tuesday night.
Apparently, Donald Trump Jr. didn’t get the memo.
The president’s eldest son kicked off his Fox & Friends appearance by attacking CNN’s Jake Tapper for not pressing Jill Biden harder on her husband’s history of making “gaffes” during an interview on State of the Union Sunday. “Once a Democrat operative, all of it—always a Democrat operative,” he said, unconvincingly.
“Joe Biden can’t remember where he is 50 percent of the time,” Trump Jr. declared. “He forgets the office that he’s running for.” He added, with no sense of irony, “If Donald Trump made one Joe Biden-type error, once, it would be all over! Joe does it every day.”
“So that’s why he’s in debate prep,” he continued, mocking his father’s opponent for doing his homework. “He can’t be on the campaign trail because he needs to be able to perform for two hours, despite having done this for 50 years.”
But he wasn’t done. He called Biden “the guy who’s most inept in terms of speaking, in terms of ability” and telling the Fox hosts, “You would think that after half a century in Washington, D.C., Ainsley, you’d be able to remember your platform, you’d be able to remember a couple talking points and not need a TelePrompter. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
In recent weeks, Trump’s top campaign staff have been doing whatever they can to undo the president’s attempts to lower expectations for Biden’s performance. “Joe Biden is not formidable anywhere else but he is formidable on the debate stage,” campaign manager Bill Stepien told NBC News this month.
Communications director Tim Murtaugh went even further, telling Fox News, “Biden spent decades skillfully debating in the Senate, won two debates while running for vice president and just came through 11 debates in Democratic primaries where he defeated two dozen challengers. Joe Biden is a master debater who knows what he is doing.”
And yet, like his father, Donald Trump Jr. seems unable to help himself from giving Biden an exceedingly low bar to overcome. At least he didn’t accuse him or anyone else from his family of being on drugs this time.
Later in his Fox & Friends interview, Trump Jr. actually seemed to realize what he had done, backtracking a bit to claim, “Joe Biden should be decent in the debate, he’s been doing it for half a century. I’m worried about Joe Biden the other 22 hours of the day where he can’t seem to leave the basement.”
The message seemed to be, don’t let a successful debate performance fool you.