President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden have touched down in Cleveland for Tuesday night’s first presidential debate.
Trump arrived with first lady Melania Trump, who wore a $3340 Dolce & Gabbana black pinstriped pantsuit.
Biden arrived solo. Jill Biden campaigned in Michigan earlier in the day and will join him in Cleveland Tuesday evening for the debate.
President Trump had all his adult children and several of their significant others with him, including Ivanka Trump, Lara Trump, Eric Trump, Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump Jr and Kimberly Guilfoyle.
On the staff side, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, campaign manager Bill Stepien, Rep. Jim Jordan and adviser Hope Hicks also accompanied the Trumps on Air Force One.
Some of the Trump’s guest to the debate accompanied him, including Alice Johnson, the woman he pardoned from her life-in-prison drug conviction. Other guests will include UFC fighter Colby Covington and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive in Cleveland for the first presidential debate
Joe Biden arrives in Cleveland for the first presidential debate
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave before boarding Air Force One to travel to Cleveland
Joe Biden boarded his new campaign plane in the rain for the flight from Wilmington to Ohio
Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle walk across the tarmac to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base before flying to Cleveland
Ivanka Trump at the Cleveland airport; she will watch her father in Tuesday’s debate
Lara Trump posted a photo to Instagram of her and Tiffany Trump preparing to fly to Cleveland on Air Force One
President Trump invited UFC fighter Colby Covington – seen above with the president in a file photo – to the debate
Joe Biden is waiting for the debate to begin at a private residence in Cleveland
Protesters have gathered near the debate hall in Cleveland
Protesters rally against President Trump at the debate
A man holds up a sign on the coronavirus deaths in America at a rally near the debate hall in Cleveland
A senior Trump campaign official told reporters on the plane that the president is ready for the debate and would not be doing any last minute prep on the plane.
‘He’s ready to go,’ the official said.
Team Trump is prepared for the president’s taxes to come up first thing after a bombshell New York Times report that Trump only paid $750 in taxes for 2016 and 2017.
Trump, meanwhile, is expected to try and shake Biden’s composure by attacking him through his son Hunter. The president has used Hunter Biden and his work on the board of a Ukrainian gas company to attack Biden and cast doubt on his presidential credentials.
Biden’s taxes showed that he and his wife Jill paid more than $346,204 in federal taxes and other payments for 2019 on an income of $944,737 before seeking a refund of nearly $47,000, giving them a total tax bill for the year of $299,346.
The 2019 tax returns for Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, a lawyer who has taken leave from his position as a partner with the firm DLA Piper, were also released.
The couple paid $754,809 on an income of $3,018,127.
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.
Documents show the president, who says he is a billionaire, paid no income tax in 11 of the 18 years studied, according to a report by The Times. He was able to minimize his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his business empire, including at his golf courses.
That’s despite receiving $427.4 million through 2018 from his reality television program and other endorsement deals. The president could also face mounting financial pressure in the years ahead. The tax records show he’s carrying a total of $421 million in loans and debt that are primarily due within four years.
Trump, in response, said he has paid millions in taxes but has released no documentation to back up his claims.
The president’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is also expected to be a major debate topic as are his charges mail-in balloting will lead to a ‘rigged’ election. Numerous studies have proven that is not the case.
Meanwhile, Melania Trump and Jill Biden will come face-to-face for the first time this election year at the debate.
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.
Joe Biden released his tax returns on Tuesday ahead of the debate in a move seen as a troll to President Donald Trump
Jill Biden spent Tuesday campaigning in Michigan and will join her husband in Cleveland
Melania Trump, exiting Marine One at Joint Base Andrews with President Trump, will have her first face-to-face meeting with Jill Biden this campaign year
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
Tuesday night marks the first of three presidential debates; the welcome signs have gone up in Cleveland
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.
Chairs are lined up but signs have been placed on two of every three chairs that read: ‘Thank you for not sitting here in observance of social distancing.’
Each campaign was given 20 tickets to hand out to guests. There will be about 100 people total watching.
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
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.
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.