Melania Trump and Jill Biden will come face-to-face for the first time this election year at Tuesday night’s presidential debate when both wives are on hand to watch President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden in their first match up.
The two women have been at the same events in the past, including Trump’s 2017 inauguration and the December 2018 funeral for George H.W. Bush, where the Bidens sat a row behind the Trumps.
But Tuesday marks the election meeting for the two women, who have taken different approaches to this campaign year.
Biden, who has years of experience as a political spouse, has been an active campaigner for her husband, keeping her own travel schedule, conducting interviews, and making the case for his election. She and Joe Biden will launch a train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
Trump, who was a political neophyte in the 2016 campaign, made the case for her husband’s re-election bid at the Republican National Convention in August but hasn’t appeared at a campaign event for him since then.
Jill Biden will spend Tuesday campaigning in Michigan before heading to Ohio to meet her husband for the debate. Melania Trump will travel with the president from Washington D.C. aboard Air Force One on Tuesday afternoon.
Melania Trump and Jill Biden will meet face-to-face for the first time this election year at Tuesday night’s presidential debate in Cleveland
Final preparations are done for the debate stage ahead of Tuesday night’s first of three presidential debates
Melania Trump and Jill Biden have crossed paths in the past: above the Trumps, Obamas, Pences and Bidens on the Capitol steps at President Trump’s January 2017 inauguration
At George W. Bush’s funeral in December 2018, the Bidens sat in the row behind the Trumps and other presidents and first ladies
Jill and Joe Biden speak to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner before George HW Bush’s funeral began
Cleveland, meanwhile, is preparing to host both couples and the mass of aides, security and media that will descend on the city for the first presidential debate.
The city of Cleveland set up barriers and called in the National Guard in anticipation of protests and riots ahead of the first presidential debate Tuesday evening.
The 90-minute debate will into six segments, selected by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who is moderating.
The candidates will not shake hands when they take the stage at 9 pm ET on Tuesday night because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead they will stand at podiums that are socially distanced from one another while Wallace sits at a desk in front of them.
There will be no opening statements and the first question will go to Trump.
There will be a ‘small’ audience in the room, all of whom will be tested for COVID, according to Peter Ayre, senior adviser to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson urged protesters to remain peaceful but said he will not issue a curfew for the city.
‘Cleveland has been a peaceful city lately so let’s keep it that way and show the people the way Cleveland is,’ Jackson said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine sent 300 members from the Ohio National Guard to Cleveland.
A security perimeter was set up around the Samson Pavilion, the building where the debate will be held. There are numerous road closures in place. Military trucks arrived on the scene Monday and there is a heavy police presence on the Cleveland Clinic campus where the two candidates will meet at the debate sponsored by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic.
Pictures show preparations underway in the city Monday after the mayor, Frank Jackson, urged protesters to remain peaceful. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine sent 300 members from the Ohio National Guard to the city
Military trucks have arrived on the scene and there is a heavy police presence on the Cleveland Clinic campus where the two candidates will meet
Donald Trump, right, and Joe Biden, left, are preparing to square off in Ohio, just five weeks before the election
The 90-minute debate will be divided into six segments: the pandemic, the economy, the Supreme Court, election integrity, the candidates’ records, and ‘race and violence in our cities.’ A report from the New York Times on Sunday that revealed Trump paid $750 in income tax in 2016 also will likely come up.
The two candidates have taken different approaches to their preparations.
Biden has been hunkered down in Wilmington with briefing books and mock debate sessions.
Trump, meanwhile, has done less than two hours prep time, CNN reported, including a short Q&A session on Sunday where advisers used flash cards to try and stump the president. Trump also played golf on Sunday morning.
Polls show Biden leading Trump nationally and in a number of key battleground states ahead of the debate, which is their first face-to-face meeting this year.
‘I am looking very forward to the debate,’ Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday.
It is the first of three scheduled presidential debates. Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, will debate in October.
Two major topics expected in Tuesday’s show down: Trump’s tax history and his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
In 2016, Trump broke years of tradition and did not release his tax returns, saying he wouldn’t while he was under an IRS audit. Biden has released his returns.
In the lead up to the debate, Biden has characterized the race as a clash between Scranton, the working-class city where he was born, and Park Avenue, where Trump made his name.
His campaign, within hours after The New York Times reported Trump paid $750 in taxes the year he became president, released an ad listing the typical income tax paid by teachers, firefighters and nurses.
Team Biden is also selling stickers that say: ‘I Paid More In Taxes Than Donald Trump.’
It’s part of Biden’s strategy to appeal to the blue-collar, working class voters whose support helped put Trump in the Oval Office in 2016. It’s also a voting bloc that has been loyal to Biden in past elections.
Trump, meanwhile, is highlighting his economic record and has based his re-election campaign on his ability to help the economy.
The coronavirus pandemic has up ended the American economy, which Trump has sought to blame on China and touted his pre-COVID economic record with its low unemployment.
Security fences have been installed around the debate site
The stage of the first presidential debate is seen at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic on Monday
Tuesday’s clash in Cleveland, Ohio, the first of three 90-minute debates, represents the first time voters will have the chance to see the candidates facing off against one another directly
Preparations take place for the first Presidential debate outside the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion
Trump suggested in a tweet on Sunday that Biden will be on performance-enhancing drugs during the debate, which could be a prediction of how he’ll try and rattle Biden during their face off.
Biden and his aides are rehearsing for any possible attacks from the commander-in-chief and the Democratic nominee has said he hopes he won’t get thrown off by any Trump allegations.
The president has insisted repeatedly – and without proof – that Biden took performance enhancement drugs ahead of the Democratic debates. He’s challenged him to take a drug test ahead of their debate here while offering to take one himself.
‘Joe Biden just announced that he will not agree to a Drug Test. Gee, I wonder why?,’ Trump tweeted Monday morning.
And the president said during a press conference at the White House on Sunday that he wasn’t joking.
‘No, I’m not joking. I mean, I’m willing to take a drug test. I think he should too,’ he said.
On Sunday, when asked by reporters if he would take a drug test, Biden replied: ‘No, I have no comment.
And his campaign put out a statement saying if Trump ‘thinks his best case is made in urine, he can have it.’
Mounted police patrol around the Samson Pavilion as workers prepare for the first presidential debate
The Samson Pavilion on the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic, where the debate takes place
Biden is rehearsing and studying his briefing books – in their Arial typeface, 14 point type.
Bob Bauer, a senior Biden adviser and former White House general counsel, is playing the role of Trump, according to The New York Times.
Trump is weighing trying to bait his rival with talking about his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings – a popular applause with his supporters on the campaign trail – and mentioning Tara Reade, who accused Biden of sexual assault in the 1970s when she worked in his office, which he has denied.
Biden is practicing keeping his temper and not being defensive.
‘I hope I don’t get baited into getting into a brawl with this guy,’ he told donors at a fund-raiser earlier this month.
Bauer has not actually donned a Trump costume in line with Trump stand-ins from previous years, but he is representing his style and expected strategy, the AP reported.
Trump has decided to skip formal preparation, though he said Sunday that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his former 2016 primary rival, Chris Christie, are helping him.
‘We had a little debate prep before we came here,’ Trump said at a White House press conference as Giuliani and Christie sat to the side.
The president also brushed off questions about whether he is engaged in formal debate prep, saying he debates every day.
‘What I do is debate prep every day. I’m taking questions from you people all the time,’ he told reporters. ‘I mean, I’ve taken a lot of questions from you over the last number of years, and he doesn’t.’
He added: ‘I’m running a country.’
Stand in rehearse on stage for Tuesday night’s first president debate at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic
The first debate will be 90 minutes long with no commercials and start at 9 pm ET
Technicians run tests ahead of Tuesday night’s debate
Once on stage Tuesday night, neither the candidates nor the moderator will wear masks.
It’s unclear, however, if Biden will come out wearing one. The former vice president has been cautious in his public outings, limiting the crowd size and making sure white circles on the ground keep attendees socially distanced. He is often masked when outside.