Biden plans to head to Camp David to prepare for June 27 debate with Trump

After back-to-back trips to Europe, President Joe Biden plans to head to Camp David next week to prepare for his first 2024 debate with former President Donald Trump, hunkering down at the woodsy Maryland hideaway that has hosted many similar cram sessions in the past.

Biden spent most of last week in France marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day. He goes to Italy on Wednesday for a summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and then straight to Los Angeles for a weekend fundraiser featuring Hollywood superstars George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

All that travel has left Biden little time to devote to preparation for the June 27 debate. A second faceoff is set for Sept. 10.

A person with knowledge of the president’s plans, who insisted on anonymity to more freely discuss them, suggested Biden could spend the better part of a week at Camp David getting ready for the first debate.

But others involved in the planning said Monday that details were still being worked out, including how many days Biden would devote to prep. They said exactly where he’d be doing it, at Camp David or elsewhere, had not been finalized.

Camp David, located in the Catoctin Mountains northwest of Washington, is no stranger to presidents prepping for the debate stage. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan went there to ready themselves for debates during their reelection campaigns, as did George H.W. Bush before a debate in 1992.

President Barack Obama visited Camp David before his final debate with Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. Biden himself used the presidential retreat to prepare for his State of the Union address in February.

In a memo released to coincide with the one-month mark prior to the debate, Jen O’Malley Dillon, chair of Biden’s reelection campaign, wrote that the president will aim to go on the offensive and push Trump to talk about how his three appointees to the Supreme Court helped overturn Roe v. Wade, and how he could further undermine abortion rights in a second term.

Biden also wants Trump to discuss his “attacks” on U.S. democracy and promotion of political violence and an economic agenda that Biden’s team says will furnish the rich with tax cuts while imperiling funding for Social Security, O’Malley Dillon wrote.

Trump, meanwhile, has been eager to debate Biden, challenging him to a faceoff “anytime, anyplace.”

At one point Trump suggested that the president join him for a debate outside the lower Manhattan courthouse where the presumptive Republican nominee was on trial for 34 felony counts in a case involving hush money payment to a porn actor. Trump’s campaign set up an empty lectern at several of his rallies to underscore the message.

While Trump participated in more traditional debate prep in previous races — with his former friend-turned-critic Chris Christie playing the role of Hillary Clinton in 2016 — his team insists that this time around he will be eschewing the kind of formal preparation expected from Biden.

“President Trump takes on numerous tough interviews every single week and delivers lengthy rally speeches while standing, demonstrating elite stamina,” said Trump senior adviser Jason Miller.


Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report from New York.

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