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Biden’s deputy campaign manager on his debate strategy

It has been more than three weeks since Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump squared off on the debate stage. Since then, 47 million Americans have voted. But for those who haven’t, Thursday’s Nashville debate represents the final chance to see the candidates face off before Election Day. Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It has been more than three weeks since Joe Biden and Donald Trump last squared off on the debate stage, and 47 million Americans have already voted since then.

    But for those still undecided, this is the last chance they have to see the candidates side by side before Election Day.

    The former vice president has been off the trail preparing for tonight. There is a lot on the line as we move into this final sprint.

    And just about to join us from the same spot where we heard from President Trump's spokesperson, will be in just a few seconds, Kate Bedingfield. She is Joe Biden's deputy campaign manager. And I think she's just about ready to join us now.

    Kate Bedingfield, are you — do we have you there?

  • Kate Bedingfield:

    Yes. Hi, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There she is.

    So, Kate Bedingfield, I'm going to start out with the same question I had for Tim Murtaugh. What is the main goal of Vice President Biden tonight?

  • Kate Bedingfield:


    He's going to talk directly to the American people about the fact that, if they have been unhappy with the chaotic, erratic leadership that they have gotten from Donald Trump over the last four years, they have another choice. He's going to talk directly about his plans to get this virus under control.

    He's going to talk about his plans to build the economy back better, to get our kids back in school, and to once again lead this country with a sense of dignity and integrity.

    Judy, I was listening to Tim Murtaugh there. And that was just — it feels like he lives in a different universe. That was just lie after lie after lie.

    And to listen to him try to revive this smear, this long-debunked smear that they have been trying to work against the vice president for a year-and-a-half, is just a reminder that they don't have an argument to make to the American people about — for Donald Trump's reelection.

    And so I think, if you're a voter who's thinking about who you want to lead this country, and you hear that from President Trump tonight on the debate stage, you're just reminded that he doesn't have a plan to make your life better.

    And what you're going to hear from Joe Biden today are his plans to make their lives better.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And I did want to ask you about that. How much of what he says is going to be about his own plans and how much is a critique of President Trump?

    But what about what we just heard from Tim Murtaugh, that the president is going to spend time — if it doesn't come up from the moderator, he's going to talk about this business deal that Hunter Biden was involved in and allegedly that Joe Biden profited from?

  • Kate Bedingfield:

    I think the American people want the debate tonight to be about their families and not about the Biden family.

    And I think that every time that Donald Trump, again, tries to revive this smear, he reminds people that he doesn't have a plan.

    Look, there is no merit to these attacks. This is something, let's not forget, that Donald Trump got himself impeached trying to — trying to smear Joe Biden and his family with. It's simply not true.

    If any of what, for example, Tim Murtaugh was just alleging about Joe Biden's relationship with China were true, you would see it reflected in the 22 years of tax returns that he's made public.

    But you know who hasn't made their tax returns public? Donald Trump. And you know why? At least in part, it's because he has a bank account in China.

    So, to hear Donald Trump, who has paid more in taxes to the Chinese government than he has to the U.S. government, try to land this smear, it it's almost laughable. If it weren't such a threat to our democracy and discourse in this country, it would almost be laughable.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Two other things I definitely want to ask you about.

    You have talked about the pandemic, Vice President Biden's plans. What exactly would he do different? What I hear from a number of voters is, what can anybody do different? Joe Biden has said he's not going to shut down the country, he's not going to have a mask requirement.

    So, what is going to change? The trajectory of this virus is going in the wrong direction?

  • Kate Bedingfield:

    Well, first of all, he would not politicize the virus, which is something that Donald Trump has done from the outset, has made it so that people are distrustful of wearing masks, of taking the steps that they need to take to keep the virus under control.

    So, he would lead, as a president should. He would listen to the scientists. What we have seen from Donald Trump for the last nine months is that he's chosen to attack Dr. Fauci. He has chosen to attack and try to undermine the credibility of the scientists who are helping us work through this crisis.

    He would put in place meaningful plans to ensure that schools and small businesses have the resources that they need to open safely, to ensure that we're keeping them safe.

    And he would take decisive action. I mean, the other thing that we can't lose sight of here is that Donald Trump knew the severity of this virus back in February, told Bob Woodward privately that it was a huge threat to the American people, and told the American people publicly that it was no worse than the flu.

    If the president can't be trusted to lead the country in a crisis, then how are we ever going to overcome it?

  • Judy Woodruff:


  • Kate Bedingfield:

    Joe Biden will tell the American people the truth and get us through this crisis.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we should say, the president denies what is in Bob Woodward's book.

    But let me also ask you about something that Joe Biden has been asked about.

  • Kate Bedingfield:

    It is on tape.


  • Judy Woodruff:

    I'm just saying, the president denies it.

    But, Kate Bedingfield, with regard to something the vice president has been asked about is what to do about the Supreme Court and what he would do about limiting terms, what he would do about adding to the numbers of justices.

    He has announced he's going to create a commission. But you and I both know, in Washington, creating a commission is so often seen as a way of ducking an issue.

    How is that grappling with this very important question, to just sidestep it, frankly, by appointing a commission?

  • Kate Bedingfield:

    Well, it's not sidestepping it at all. It's a thoughtful solution.

    He's announced that he would bring together a bipartisan group of people to think about the different reforms that we need to put in place, because he believes that the system is, in his own words, out of whack.

    The Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process has become a political football. We have seen the Republicans bend the norms that used to ensure that this process was not hyperpartisan and hyperpoliticized. And now it is.

    And he — what he's doing is bringing together thoughtful people to come to him with recommendations on how we can reform this process and restore a sense of balance to the courts.

    So, I think what he's doing here is actually a very thoughtful approach to how to tackle a process that, sadly, has been broken.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kate Bedingfield, we're all on the edge of our seats.

    Thank you very much.

  • Kate Bedingfield:

    Thank you for having me.

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