presidential debate

Senior Campaign Advisors Talk Strategy Ahead of Final Presidential Debate

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will face off in a final debate in Nashville

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The stage is set in Nashville for the second and final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Mercedes Schlapp, a senior advisor for the Trump campaign, and Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to former President Barack Obama, spoke to NBC 6 anchor Sheli Muñiz about strategies going into the final debate.

SHELI: At least 42 million Americans have voted. We’re talking record levels who have already made up their minds. What does the campaign try to do tonight?

SCHLAPP: Look, I think the president is going to talk about his strong vision for America that in which he would build and rebuild a strong economy, make sure we have safe communities, in addition, that we combat the coronavirus.

JARRETT: It’s a great opportunity for Vice President Biden to speak directly to the American people about how he would lead our country, how we would get our arms around this COVID-19 pandemic, make sure the vaccine is safe and equitably distributed, and that we rebuild our economy back for the millions of people who've lost their jobs.

SHELI: Do you get the sense that people already know their plans and people are a little fatigued by debates, town halls, and they are just ready to make their decision?

JARRETT: Well, I'll tell you one thing, this year has been horrendous for so many Americans and they have rightly been distracted focusing on holding onto their jobs, making sure their kids are safe if they’re in school. If not, they’re trying to home school them, which is obviously quite challenging. So, people have had a lot on their minds so there are some folks who are just now tuning in. 

SCHLAPP: I think that, obviously, different voters are waiting, and some are voting early on. I know my parents and my sister, who are in Miami, voted yesterday. Obviously we’re pushing for early voting. (On the) day of the election there will be long lines -- there are long lines already.

SHELI: This last debate will feature a new rule allowing microphones to be muted. Who benefits from that? Does that become an obstacle?

SCHLAPP: Well, I mean, they can try to mute the president all they want but the president will be the voice of the American people. At the end of the day, we are going to see how this plays out with the moderator.

JARRETT: I think the American people benefit. I think last time all the feedback I had received and the experience I had is by President Trump interrupting Vice President Biden over and over again it got in the way of us hearing directly from VP Biden. I think people should have a chance to hear directly from President Trump. 

SHELI: I want to ask about the Iranian intelligence and foreign adversaries allegedly sending these threatening emails to Floridians. Does this undermine voter confidence?

JARRETT: Well, it can, and I have to say obviously we've known for a very long time that foreign governments are intending to influence the outcome of our elections, and the question is why did the Trump administration not take this seriously sooner.

SCHLAPP: Well, I got to tell you it’s something that I know the administration has been working on for a long time in cooperating with state governments and local governments to ensure that we are able to protect the election integrity and to protect the voters.

You can catch the debate Thursday at 9 p.m. on NBC 6, and you can also watch the event live online here along with our debate live blog for real-time news, analysis and fact-checking. Special coverage from NBC News begins at 8 p.m.

Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent and co-anchor of Weekend TODAY, will moderate.

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