Donald Trump is eschewing traditional methods of preparation for the upcoming presidential debates, favoring lunch meetings at golf clubs over mock debates or briefing books, according to a Washington Post report out Saturday.
The Post reported that rather than reviewing policy positions or holding formal rehearsals, Trump prefers to hold Sunday lunch meetings over bacon cheeseburgers at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey with a group of confidants including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham and newly-minted campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.
“Donald Trump is the unpredictable X-factor and Hillary Clinton is the scripted statist,” Conway explained to the newspaper.
Former Trump advisor Sam Nunberg agreed, telling the Post that the GOP candidate wants to be the “showstopper at the Roman Colosseum, the main event at WrestleMania” to Clinton’s “professional and wonky” counterpoint.
“He’s an unconventional candidate, so debate prep in the classic sense doesn’t apply to him,” Conway added. “That applies to the accoutrements that are usually associated with getting ready for debates: contrived gestures, lecterns, a group of consultants in belted khakis holed up in a cabin, the Socratic method of peppering questions. That’s not him.”
Brett O’Donnell, who served as debate coach to Mitt Romney in 2012, said that former top aide Paul Manafort had previously asked whether O’Donnell would prepare Trump for the debates.
Although those negotiations came to nothing, O’Donnell said that Trump should be worried. “He thinks he won all the primary debates,” O’Donnell told the Post, but when it comes to Clinton “he can’t just name-call her and have a wrestling match for 90 minutes.”
Unnamed sources told The Washington Post that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were also present at the meeting, as were newly-hired campaign CEO Steve Bannon and former Fox News boss Roger Ailes.
In a statement two weeks ago, the Trump campaign denied a report that Ailes was helping the candidate prepare for debates.
“He is not advising Mr. Trump or helping with debate prep. They are longtime friends, but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign,” campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Hollywood Reporter.