Biden gives a foreign policy speech in New York in July. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

DETROIT, Mich. — The biggest lesson Joe Biden learned from the first debate is that there are no rules of engagement at these things, and he's ready to throw down at tonight's debate, according to five senior campaign officials.

What to watch: Yes, he's going to keep contrasting himself with President Trump. But he's squarely focused on Sen. Kamala Harris, too, after the first debate in Miami.

  • "We’re not joking when we say he’s not going to let his record be mischaracterized," said one senior campaign official. "It’s not OK to label someone as a racist."
  • They were referring to Harris' line to Biden at the last debate that started with: "I know you're not racist, but ... "
  • "Some folks are willing to go places we didn’t think they’d go,” said another senior Biden campaign official, who said they were surprised by Harris' exchange with him because she's been friends with Biden for years.
  • His team maintains he won't make any personal attacks against other Democrats, but Biden himself has said he won't be as "polite" as last time.

Why it matters: Any time Biden has to spend defending his record from other candidates' attacks is less time he'll have to take on Trump — something he's been doing since he launched his campaign, signaling he views himself as the eventual nominee.

Between the lines: Although Harris saw a bump in polling after her spat with Biden, his team believes that was temporary.

  • "This is not a new dynamic," said one senior Biden campaign official. "You see candidates who rise and the balloon pops once there’s more information on that person."
  • After the Miami debates, Harris reached 20% in a Quinnipiac poll, but she's since leveled back out at around 11%.

Health care dominated last night's discussion, which Biden watched, and he plans to present that as one of the major differences between himself and Harris, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The bottom line: Biden might be ready for a fight, but Harris is surely not the only one to go after him and his record, and that could introduce new vulnerabilities he's not yet anticipating.

Go deeper: Democrats prepare for debate brawl with Biden.

Go deeper

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump whisked out of press briefing after shooting outside White House

President Trump was escorted out of a coronavirus press briefing by a Secret Service agent on Monday evening after law enforcement reportedly shot an armed suspect outside of the White House.

What's new: The 51-year-old suspect approached a uniformed Secret Service officer on the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, near the White House, and said he had a weapon, the agency alleged in a statement late Monday. He "ran aggressively towards the officer, and in a drawing motion, withdrew the object from his clothing."

Updated 46 mins ago - World

Protests in Belarus turn deadly following sham election

Belarus law enforcement officers guard a street during a protest on Monday night. Police in Minsk have fired rubber bullets for a second night against protesters. Photo: Natalia Fedosenko/TASS via Getty Image

Protesters and security forces have been clashing across Belarus overnight in a second night of protests that has left at least one person dead, hundreds injured and thousands arrested.

Why it matters: Sunday’s rigged presidential elections have yielded political uncertainty unlike any seen in Aleksander Lukashenko’s 26-year tenure. After claiming an implausible 80% of the vote, Lukashenko is using every tool in the authoritarian arsenal to maintain his grip on power.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 20,014,574 — Total deaths: 734,755 — Total recoveries — 12,222,744Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 5,089,416 — Total deaths: 163,425 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. Politics: Trump claims he would have not called for Obama to resign over 160,000 virus deathsHouse will not hold votes until Sept. 14 unless stimulus deal is reached.
  4. Business: Richer Americans are more comfortable eating out.
  5. Public health: 5 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — A dual coronavirus and flu threat is set to deliver a winter from hell.
  6. Sports: The cost of kids losing gym class — College football is on the brink.
  7. World: Europe's CDC recommends new restrictions amid "true resurgence in cases."