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.