President Trump at the Sept. 29 debate in Ohio. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's team is telling him ahead of Thursday's final debate: Stop interrupting Joe Biden. And try to be more likable.

What to watch: Trump will tell more jokes and try, if he can stay on message, to strike a softer tone. At the same time, aides expect Trump to keep going after Biden's son Hunter.

Be smart: Trump's team thinks that if he'd just yield the stage to Biden while the moderator is asking questions, Biden would wander rhetorically, "look doddering" and "step on himself."

  • "Don’t save him,” is their advice to the president, a Trump adviser tells Axios.
  • In the September debate, Trump interrupted Biden 71 times, compared with Biden's 22 interruptions of Trump.

What we're hearing: Trump’s team went back to his third debate against Hillary Clinton in 2016 for inspiration. “All Trump has to do is give people permission to vote for him," one source close to the campaign tells Axios.

  • "He did exactly the opposite of that in the first debate. So hopefully he can right the ship in this one, because his re-election may depend on it."

The big question: Will debate prep matter? "It was clear Trump didn’t study his debate document for round one," one campaign source said.

Go deeper

New Hampshire paper backs Biden in first Democratic endorsement in over 100 years

Photo: Jim Watson, Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The New Hampshire Union Leader, the conservative-leaning Manchester-based newspaper, endorsed Joe Biden for president on Sunday.

Why it matters: It's the first time the paper has endorsed a Democrat for president in over 100 years, after it broke from more than a century of backing Republicans to endorse libertarian Gary Johnson over President Trump in 2016.

Oct 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Election night in Trumpworld

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Chris Carlson-Pool/Getty Images

A luxe election-night watch party at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue is being planned for President Trump's donors, friends and advisers — but Trump's hand in it is minimal because he's "very superstitious" — people familiar with the plans tell Axios.

The big picture: This "mecca for all things MAGA," as one adviser described it, is one of three hubs where they say Trumpworld will watch returns. The others are the war room at campaign HQ in Rosslyn, Virginia, and the White House residence, where Trump and the first lady will gather close family and advisers before heading to the hotel later that night, the sources said.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
13 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Trump reaches for oily lifeline

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's campaign is making energy policy a prominent part of its closing swing state attacks against Joe Biden — especially in Pennsylvania, a state critical to Trump's reelection effort where he's trailing in the polls.

Driving the news: Trump's efforts include a new ad in Pennsylvania alleging that his Democratic presidential rival would crush the state's gas industry, and his campaign has aggressively deployed surrogates talking about energy in recent days.