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Live coverage and fact-checking

In the White House map room, a small group of advisers sat around a table and littered the president with accusations and criticism on everything from lying to incompetence. The team, led by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, was preparing Donald Trump for the assault they expect from Joe Biden on the debate stage on Tuesday night.

About 100 miles north in Wilmington, Delaware, a similar scene took place with Biden and his team, led by Ron Klain, Biden’s longtime aide and debate expert. Biden’s preparation was more traditional, sparking mock debates with veteran Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer playing Trump in at least one session.

For two very different men with opposite polar temperaments and divergent governing philosophies, their debate objectives have some fundamental things in common: to defend their opponent and make it as much of a referendum as possible. In conversations with multiple sources familiar with both candidates’ preparation, each is practicing ways to get inside the other’s skin, while also avoiding blowing up and getting out of the script if the debate gets personal.

Councilors from both candidates expect that one of the biggest flashpoints of the evening will be on every man’s children.

CNN is told that Trump is preparing to seek Hunter Biden for profitable jobs overseas when his father was vice president so he will say that young Biden was not qualified. Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to argue that the former vice president and his son acted corruptly in Ukraine.

Their hope is that this will unload Biden from his game, blowing him up or saying something wrong.

Biden’s team worked with him to get ready for Trump to seek out his son in a way he hasn’t dealt with as before. Trump’s advisers have also spent time working with the president to keep calm if Biden retaliates by calling on Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, both White House aides with no previous government experience. A source familiar with Biden’s preparation, however, says his plan is to move away from this problem, not commit.

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