Joe Biden wary of baiting in debates with Donald Trump

Joe Biden said he hopes to avoid being “baited into a brawl” when he takes on Donald Trump in presidential debates.

The Democratic candidate’s comments to a virtual fundraiser give an idea of how he will tackle the first debate in Cleveland on September 29.

Speaking about his aims, he said: “I hope I don’t take the bait.

“I hope I don’t get baited into a brawl with this guy, because that’s the only place he’s comfortable.”

Mr Biden has previously said he plans to be a “fact checker” on the debate stage, and hold Mr Trump accountable for any misstatements or falsehoods.

This is a guy who is absolutely tasteless. Completely tasteless. So pointing it out doesn't do much

But on Thursday night, Mr Biden said that “people know what a liar” his opponent is.

“This is a guy who is absolutely tasteless. Completely tasteless. So pointing it out doesn’t do much,” he said.

But Mr Biden acknowledged that he expects the president to “say awful things about me and my family” during the debate to try to get a rise out of him – and the debate is almost certain to feature clashes about the two candidates’ families.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Oldest US presidents at inauguration (PA Graphics)</figcaption>
Oldest US presidents at inauguration (PA Graphics)

The Trump campaign in particular has targeted Mr Biden’s son Hunter for his ties to Chinese and Ukranian companies, and Mr Biden has been angered about Mr Trump’s reported comments calling fallen Marines “suckers” and “losers”, speaking about his son Beau, who served in the Delaware Army National Guard.

Democrats often criticise Mr Trump for the use of his children in government positions and policy negotiations, as well as the financial benefit his family’s business has seen from the presidency.

While Mr Biden said he does not want to get baited by Mr Trump, he did express confidence that “I know how to handle bullies”.

But Mr Biden suggested his strategy in the debate will be focused more on drawing a contrast with Mr Trump on competency and policy, and offering Americans an alternative to the Trump presidency.

“The place he is most uncomfortable is on the facts. The place he’s most uncomfortable is in the area of what he’s going to do. The place he’s most uncomfortable is knowing the policy. He’s one of the most ill-informed presidents substantively that I’ve ever worked with,” Mr Biden said.

He added: “Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. I plan to tell them who I am.”