Gingrich urges Trump to lean on humor, not anger, in debate with Biden

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Friday suggested former President Trump use humor rather than anger when confronting President Biden at next week’s presidential debate.

“My advice to Trump would be deal with Biden with humor, not anger, because Biden is pathetic. And as you know, I think he’s so dishonest that you can’t take him seriously,” Gingrich said on Fox News Friday.

“All Trump has to do is be calm,” he added. “Maybe ask Biden some questions like, ‘Did you really known Vladimir Putin when he was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB in East Germany?’ — which Biden claimed he did. Or, ‘Do you believe your uncle was eaten by cannibals?'”

Biden, in April, implied his Army Air Corps aviator uncle Second Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr. was eaten by cannibals after being shot down over Papua New Guinea during World War II. The comment drew criticism from Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape, who argued his country could not be associated with cannibalism.

Gingrich went on to suggest Trump ask Biden questions targeting his son, Hunter Biden, and the laptop controversy, to get the incumbent “rolling.”

Trump and Biden are slated to square off next Thursday in a CNN debate.

The two candidates, who are both their respective parties’ presumptive nominees, met the debate requirements last week, while other candidates including independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. did not.

The debate is widely expected to be a pivotal moment for the two candidates as they try to secure voters as the race moves into the final stretch. Both Biden and Trump face concerns over their fitness for office, from issues related to their age and temperament.

Noting the debate comes with months to go until the November election, Gingrich argued “anybody could recover from anything,” while still pointing to the challenges he believes Biden faces.

“The problem for Biden is that he has a huge, uphill climb. The morning after this debate, Americans are going to go back to the grocery store, they’re going to be reminded of how expensive everything is. Within two or three days [after] the debate, some illegal migrant is going to commit a crime that makes national news,” Gingrich said.

Trump, 78, and Biden, 81, are going into the debate with national polling showing the two neck and neck.

Trump currently has a razor-thin lead of 0.6 percentage points over Biden, per a national polling index by The Hill and Decision Desk HQ.

Trump and his allies last week suggested they would dismiss a strong debate performance from Biden as a charade, repeating baseless claims that if the incumbent has a well-received performance, it would be due to him using a performance enhancing drug.

The former president’s allies made the same argument earlier this year in an attempt to downplay Biden’s State of the Union speech, with some Republicans trying to depict the incumbent as a feeble, confused old man.

Some have warned Republicans against discounting Biden ahead of the debate, including Fox News host and former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who said Republicans “gotta be very careful” with setting expectations over the debate.

“I mean, I don’t know why Republicans fall into this trap of setting high expectations,” Gowdy responded, presumably referring to setting high expectations for the former president’s performance against Biden.

Trump on Thursday said he does not want to underestimate Biden ahead of the debate.

“Well, all I can say is this: I watched him with Paul Ryan, and he destroyed Paul Ryan,” Trump said during an episode of the “All-In podcast.” “And he beat Paul Ryan, so, I’m not underestimating him.”

Biden went up against former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in the 2012 vice presidential debate before he served as vice president for former President Obama. Biden was largely thought of as the dominant figure in the debate, presenting an energetic and combative performance.

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