Trump pulls back sharply from Biden health debate – 09/07/2024 at 08:02

Donald Trump during a campaign rally, June 28, 2024 (AFP/Jim WATSON)

In the face of growing speculation about Joe Biden's health, Donald Trump is, in a very unusual way, playing the restraint card.

While his Democratic rival is undoubtedly having the worst week of his political life, the Republican candidate has resisted the temptation to publicly push him.

No diatribe, no new deadly nickname: Donald Trump, not really known for keeping his tongue in his pocket, rarely comments on the storm the Democratic president is facing over his candidacy.

He had just bragged, in a few posts on his social network Truth, that he had “annihilated” his rival during a televised duel between them on June 27.

What's even more surprising is Donald Trump's near-silence, since the Republican is usually the first to attack the 81-year-old president over his health.

In one of his favorite numbers at campaign rallies, the showman mocks his opponent's age. He plays an exhausted and dazed Joe Biden, unable to get off the stage, to the delight of his fans, in his famous red hat.

He says, “He can hardly read or stand!”

His camp has been saying for years that the US president is suffering from dementia, backed up by biased montages.

In an interview with Fox News on Monday night, Donald Trump sharply criticized Biden's debate performance, avoiding mentioning a possible serious illness or attacking his mental health.

He added that he believes Biden will stay in the race.

“It was a weird debate, because from the first two minutes, the answers he gave didn’t make a lot of sense,” he said. The Republican said he didn’t look at Mr. Biden during the debate “except when he walked around a little bit.”

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Asked if he thought Biden should step down, Trump said: “Well, we've prepared for him, but I don't think there's any point in that being important.”

– “Deliberate” silence –

How can we explain this change in attitude?

Republican strategist Rob Burgess believes the Republican candidate's near-silence was entirely “deliberate.”

There are rare opportunities for Donald Trump, who was convicted of criminal charges in New York in late May, to distract from his legal troubles or his often unpopular stance on abortion.

Donald Trump imitates Joe Biden falling down the stairs, during a rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 9, 2024 (AFP/Jim WATSON)

“Why put yourself in the middle of a media storm when it’s not necessary?” Rob Burgess, a member of Donald Trump’s campaign team in 2016 and 2020, told AFP.

Is it also possible that Donald Trump, 78, will back down for fear of being opposed by a candidate younger than Joe Biden in November?

This is what David Axelrod, Barack Obama's former strategist, hinted at.

“Trump doesn’t talk much about the bad Biden debate. His campaign doesn’t do any commercials about it,” he said. “Why do you think this is so restrained?” he wrote, hinting at X.

– See you in Milwaukee –

In Florida on Tuesday for one of his first campaign rallies since the debate, will Donald Trump resist the temptation to imitate a struggling American president?

The Republican must detail “how Joe Biden’s failed presidency has had disastrous consequences for Floridians and Americans,” according to his entourage.

The event is scheduled to take place in the greater suburbs of Miami, starting at 7:00 p.m. local time (11:00 p.m. GMT).

Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaks to the press backstage during the debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in Atlanta, Georgia, June 27, 2024. (AFP / CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA)

On stage, the Republican should be accompanied by Marco Rubio, the influential senator from Florida who appears on a list of three or four names that Donald Trump is considering as his running mate.

Profiles for Sen. J.D. Vance and Gov. Doug Burgum are also being circulated, and the Trump camp is expected to formalize its pick in the coming days.

But here again, Republicans have preferred to leave the spotlight on the trench warfare being waged by Democrats, four months before the presidential election.

Donald Trump’s running mate will be announced next week at the latest, when the Republican National Convention begins in Milwaukee. The massive gathering will be a chance for Republicans to officially crown Donald Trump as the party’s nominee. And to catch a little light again.

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