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Joe Biden braces for Donald Trump offensive in debate

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Joseph R. Biden is expected to walk into a buzzsaw Tuesday when he climbs onto the stage for the first time to debate President Trump, and the way the Democratic presidential nominee responds could shape the contours of the race for the closing weeks of the campaign. The megahyped 90-minute event, hosted…

Joe Biden braces for Donald Trump offensive in debate

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Joseph R. Biden is expected to walk into a buzzsaw Tuesday when he climbs onto the stage for the first time to debate President Trump, and the way the Democratic presidential nominee responds could shape the contours of the race for the closing weeks of the campaign.

The megahyped 90-minute event, hosted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western University, will be a sink-or-swim moment for the gaffe-prone former vice president, who is leading in most polls less than 40 days from Election Day.

“He is going to have to prove to all kinds of normal, nonpartisan, average voters that he is physically capable of doing the job and able to process the information on the fly,” said Rob Steele, a member of the Republican National Committee in Michigan, a crucial battleground state. “Certainly as a physician, I hope they will be looking closely because there are a lot of red flags.”

Mr. Steele said, “I would like him to release his CT of the brain.”

Mr. Biden has momentum in the race. Polls show him leading Mr. Trump nationally and in key swing states where voters trust the president more on the economy but question his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the start of this year, with a strong economy, Mr. Trump suggested that he might not take part in debates at all.

But after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, forcing 22 million people out of work and causing the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans, the president lobbied in vain for more than three debates.

The quest for more debates underscores how Mr. Trump, a reality TV star and master showman, thinks he has the edge on stage.

Indeed, the Biden team is on guard.

The ghosts of Mr. Trump’s surprise victory in 2016 and lingering concerns over Mr. Biden’s fitness for the job elevate the sense that the 77-year-old’s presidential aspirations could evaporate overnight if he drops a stink bomb on the debate stage.

Mr. Trump signaled that he will take the fight to Mr. Biden. His first debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016 set a record with a viewership of 84 million, and Mr. Trump received far more mentions on social media than his Democratic opponent did afterward.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of them former prosecutors, are helping Mr. Trump prepare by taking turns playing the role of Mr. Biden.

“Either one of them is about five times smarter than Sleepy Joe,” the president said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also has been attending the debate preparation sessions, but the president said he hasn’t devoted much time to rehearsals.

“I’m running a country. I don’t have the luxury,” Mr. Trump told reporters. He said he thinks some candidates make the mistake of overpreparing for debates. “Sometimes you can go too much in that stuff.”

Mr. Trump said he considers his almost daily question-and-answer sessions with journalists as good preparation.

“What I do is debate prep every day,” he told reporters Sunday. “I’m taking questions from you people all the time. I’ve taken a lot of questions from you over the last number of years, and [Mr. Biden] doesn’t.”

Questioning Mr. Biden’s mental agility has become one of the president’s favorite gibes. Mr. Trump has called for drug tests to be administered before the debate after speculating that Mr. Biden took a performance-enhancing drug before a debate against Sen. Bernard Sanders during the Democratic primaries, though there is no evidence supporting that theory.

“Whether he is or not, it doesn’t matter, but I would love to take a test and he can take a test, too,” the president said.

Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield fired back. “If the president thinks his best case is made in urine, he can have at it.

“We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19.”

Mr. Trump took that to be a drug test refusal.

“Joe Biden just announced that he will not agree to a Drug Test. Gee, I wonder why?” he tweeted.

Mr. Biden, meanwhile, has urged voters not to be distracted by Mr. Trump’s shenanigans and been holed up in Delaware with advisers and close aides preparing for the face-off.

When the two candidates meet at 9 p.m. EST, they won’t shake hands — a nicety omitted under coronavirus restrictions. The final two debates will take place on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22.

In the run-up to the debate, Mr. Biden is projecting confidence in his ability to go toe to toe with Mr. Trump.

His campaign sees the debate as a chance to highlight Mr. Trump’s bungled response to COVID-19 and warn that the headstrong Republican has tarnished the nation’s reputation.

He will accuse Mr. Trump of trying to strip away health care coverage from millions of Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions, by backing efforts to dismantle Obamacare.

“The people know the president is a liar,” Mr. Biden said in a recent MSNBC interview. “He doesn’t know how to debate the facts because he’s not that smart.”

Mr. Biden has a 7-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls and is running ahead of the president in key battleground states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that backed Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton after supporting Democrats for decades.

Mr. Biden has been under the bright lights before. His performances in vice presidential debates against Sarah Palin in 2008 and Paul D. Ryan in 2012 were well-received.

Eight years later, Mr. Biden’s low-key and meandering campaign has provided a stark contrast with Mr. Trump’s hard-charging approach. It has given rise to “Weekend at Bernie’s” quips, armchair medical diagnoses and the president’s “Sleepy Joe” and “Joe Hidin” broadsides.

The unconventional nature of his bid has fueled questions about whether Mr. Biden has lost his fastball and has fed into deep-seated fears among Democrats that the party is headed toward a repeat of four years ago.

Nate Keifer, 49, hopes he is wrong, but he said the race “is feeling eerily similar to when Hillary lost” in 2016.

“The polls are all saying Biden, but listen, I live in northern Michigan. I live in a very right-wing rural area, and those people are voting. Every single one of them,” Mr. Keifer said. “I think again they are underestimating the middle of America.”

With a shrug of his shoulders and a look of disappointment, he said Mr. Biden is “lame.”

Mr. Trump’s supporters say Mr. Biden is going to be exposed on the debate stage.

“The Democratic Party has picked someone who is clearly not fit to be in any type of office,” said Bill Baxter, a 47-year-old mechanic. “I think Trump is going to attack the hell out of Biden.”

His wife, Laureen, who works at a bank, said Mr. Biden is “obviously” showing symptoms of early onset dementia, and she predicted the Democrat will struggle to keep up without a teleprompter.

“If he gets attacked and gets agitated, that is when he is going to go off and somebody is going to be [called] a lying dog-faced pony soldier,” she said.

• Dave Boyer reported from Washington.

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Hunter Biden Burisma payments detailed in Treasury Department reports

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden flatly denied at Tuesday night’s debate that his lawyer son took huge sums of money from corrupt oligarchs and Chinese communists during his vice presidency, but Treasury Department reports show that Hunter Biden did receive the money. President Trump chose to make an issue of Hunter Biden’s cash haul…

Hunter Biden Burisma payments detailed in Treasury Department reports

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden flatly denied at Tuesday night’s debate that his lawyer son took huge sums of money from corrupt oligarchs and Chinese communists during his vice presidency, but Treasury Department reports show that Hunter Biden did receive the money.

President Trump chose to make an issue of Hunter Biden’s cash haul from Russia, Ukraine and China with the implication that unsavory figures were trying to buy Vice President Biden and the Obama administration.

“When somebody gets 3½ million dollars from the mayor of Moscow,” Mr. Trump said.

“That’s is not true. That report is totally false,” Mr. Biden said.

A Senate Republican report by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee says Mr. Trump is right, though it was not Moscow’s mayor, but his wife, whom the U.S. suspects of corruption in attaining billionaire status.

Hunter Biden received a single wire transfer of $3.5 million from Elena Baturina. The Senate report said she became a billionaire through illegal construction contracts awarded by her husband, since deceased.

This is based on Treasury Department reports received by committee Chairman Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican.

The Senate narrative is not specific, but the types of transaction records match the description of confidential suspicious activity reports that the Treasury issues when it suspects illegal activity.

The Senate report says, “On Feb. 14, 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton LLC (Rosemont Seneca Thornton) bank account for a ‘Consultancy Agreement.’ Rosemont Seneca Thornton is an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden that was incorporated on May 28, 2013 in Wilmington, Del.”

Russia invaded Crimea in Ukraine the month Ms. Baturina sent the money.

“Why did he get it?” Mr. Trump asked.

“That report was written for political reasons,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Trump asserted, “Once you became vice president, he made a fortune in Ukraine, in China, in Moscow and various other places.”

Mr. Biden responded, “That is not true.”

According to the senators’ Treasury records, it is true.

In April 2014, President Obama made Mr. Biden the point man in Ukraine, after the Russian invasion, to persuade leaders to rid the country of rampant corruption.

The next month, Hunter Biden showed up on the board of directors of the energy company Burisma Holdings, which the State Department considers corrupt, as it does its oligarch owner, Mykola Zlochevsky. Hunter Biden’s business partner, Devon Archer, already had secured a spot.

Over the years, Burisma paid the two more than $4 million. Treasury records show that 48 wire transfers from May 2014 to February 2016 totaled $3.4 million. The money went to Rosemont Seneca Bohai, a shell company run by Mr. Archer in partnership with a Chinese investment fund.

In 2014 and 2015, Burisma sent $700,000 directly to Hunter Biden. After Mr. Archer was arrested on fraud charges, Burisma sent Hunter Biden another $752,000.

On China, Vice President Biden promoted closer ties to the communist regime on many fronts. He traveled to China in 2013 on Air Force Two and took along Hunter, who met with Chinese businessmen.

“China ate your lunch, Joe,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday night. “And no wonder your son goes in and he takes out billions of dollars. He takes out billions of dollars to manage. He makes millions of dollars.”

Mr. Biden said, “None of that is true.”

The Bidens have adamantly denied reports that Hunter Biden’s investment firm received a $1 billion infusion.

But the Senate report documents extensive ties between Hunter Biden and various Chinese entities that produced millions of dollars in wire transfers.

In one example, China’s CEFC Infrastructure Investment wired $5 million to HudsonWest LLC, a New York company jointly owned by Hunter Biden and Chinese interests. HudsonWest then sent $4.7 million to Hunter Biden’s law firm. The next year, another $1 million was delivered.

Hunter Biden sent 20 wire transfers totaling $1.3 million to Vice President Biden’s brother James for consulting services. Treasury flagged the transfers as potentially criminal, the Senate report said.

When the bank contacted James Biden’s wife, Sara, to learn details, she refused to cooperate, the Senate report said.

“Hunter Biden has extensive connections to Chinese businesses and Chinese foreign nationals that are linked to the Communist government,” the Senate report said. “Those contacts bore financial fruit when his father was vice president and after he left office.”

The Senate report also said Hunter Biden sent money to Ukrainian and Russian women. The Treasury reports said the transactions are linked to “what appears to be an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring.”

Mr. Johnson, the Senate homeland security panel chairman, wrote in a FoxNews.com column Tuesday that liberal news media have ignored his report showing disturbing ties between the Biden family and corrupt people.

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Joe Biden: Trump ‘looks down on us’

Joseph R. Biden leaned into his recent populist messaging Wednesday as he kicked off a train tour of eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, saying President Trump looks down on Americans who might be struggling. “I think it’s more than ignoring us,” Mr. Biden said in Cleveland. “I look at things from [a] Scranton perspective —…

Joe Biden: Trump ‘looks down on us’

Joseph R. Biden leaned into his recent populist messaging Wednesday as he kicked off a train tour of eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, saying President Trump looks down on Americans who might be struggling.

“I think it’s more than ignoring us,” Mr. Biden said in Cleveland. “I look at things from [a] Scranton perspective — he looks at it from Park Avenue. I think he basically looks down on us.”

Mr. Biden spoke the day after his first debate with Mr. Trump that was dominated by name-calling and interruptions.

“The question is does he see you where you are and where you want to be? Does he care? Has he tried to walk in your shoes to understand what’s going on in your life?” Mr. Biden said. “Or does he just ignore you and all the folks all over America who are in a similar situation?”

Mr. Trump said Wednesday that Mr. Biden flopped the previous night and that the former vice president’s performance probably cost him support from the far left.

“Second Amendment is DEAD if Biden gets in! Is that what you want from a leader? He will destroy our Country! VOTE NOW USA,” the president said on Twitter.

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Joe Biden blasts Green New Deal after defending it

The Green New Deal was back on the front burner Tuesday after Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden said that he doesn’t support the ambitious climate plan, immediately both before and after defending it. During the presidential debate, Mr. Biden said, “The Green New Deal is not my plan.” But a moment later, he said:…

Joe Biden blasts Green New Deal after defending it

The Green New Deal was back on the front burner Tuesday after Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden said that he doesn’t support the ambitious climate plan, immediately both before and after defending it.

During the presidential debate, Mr. Biden said, “The Green New Deal is not my plan.”

But a moment later, he said: “The Green New Deal will pay for itself as we move forward. You’re not going to build plants that in fact are great polluting plants.”

Moderator Chris Wallace interrupted, saying, “You support the Green New Deal?”

Mr. Biden replied: “No, I don’t support the Green New Deal.”

President Trump jumped in with, “Oh, you don’t? Well, that’s a big statement,” predicting that Mr. Biden had just lost “the radical left.”

Mr. Biden explained, “I support the Biden plan that I put forward, which is different than what [Mr. Trump] calls the radical Green New Deal.”

The exchange deflated environmentalists on social media who champion the Green New Deal, although Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat who sponsored the House resolution, insisted that, “This isn’t news.”

“Our differences are exactly why I joined Biden’s Climate Unity Task Force — so we could set aside our differences & figure out an aggressive climate plan to address the planetary crisis at our feet,” tweeted Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. “Trump doesn’t even believe climate change is real.”

In 60 seconds Joe Biden said he doesn’t support the Green New Deal… then he DID support the Green New Deal.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) September 30, 2020

This isn’t news, Kellyanne.Our differences are exactly why I joined Biden’s Climate Unity Task Force – so we could set aside our differences & figure out an aggressive climate plan to address the planetary crisis at our feet.Trump doesn’t even believe climate change is real. https://t.co/Bj8SMD9Syf
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 30, 2020

Mr. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, is a cosponsor of the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate, the companion to the measure introduced by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in the House.

The Biden campaign website says, “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face,” although Mr. Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan is less ambitious than Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s plan.

Mr. Biden’s plan calls for limiting but not abolishing hydraulic fracturing; replacing fossil fuels on the electrical grid by 2035, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 30, 2020

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