Trump previews debate attacks on Biden’s economy

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during his campaign event, in Racine, Wisconsin, U.S. June 18, 2024. 

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday gave a brief glimpse of the ammunition he is loading up against President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy ahead of the first presidential debate next week.

Throughout his roughly 80-minute keynote speech at a conference for the evangelical advocacy group Faith and Freedom Coalition, Trump launched a spate of attacks against Biden including about economic issues like inflation, climate infrastructure spending and the growing federal deficit.

On inflation specifically, Trump foreshadowed a tactic he said he might use at the upcoming debate against Biden on June 27.

“I sort of have this little thing. I shouldn’t show it. Maybe I should save it for the debate,” Trump said moments before taking out a miniature box of Tic Tac candies and holding a regular sized box next to it.

“Inflation, this is what it does to you. This is Tic Tacs now,” Trump proceeded, gesturing to the miniature box as the crowd roared with laughter. “That’s what inflation has done. I’m glad everybody in this room has good eyes. But I will end the Biden inflation nightmare.”

Trump’s Tic Tac demonstration represents a phenomenon that Biden himself has referred to as “shrinkflation,” the practice of selling smaller-sized items for the same price. The White House has used “shrinkflation” as an attack against corporations that it claims are artificially keeping consumer prices high.

But something like Trump’s Tic Tac stunt will not be permitted at the Thursday debate where props and pre-written notes are prohibited. It ultimately underscores how Trump will have to navigate the debate’s limitations on the kinds of theatrics that resonate at his voter rallies.

The telecasted debate is set to have no in-person viewing audience and microphones that go mute when a candidate is not speaking. These restrictions intend to limit disruptions in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the 2020 debates when both Biden and Trump struggled to get a word in edgewise over the other’s interruption.

Trump’s Saturday remarks give the Biden campaign a high-level preview of the talking points that could come up at Thursday’s showdown as both candidates prepare to take on the other.

“Under Biden, the economy is in ruins,” Trump said Saturday.

“Trump’s incoherent, unhinged tirade showed voters in his own words that he is a threat to our freedoms and is too dangerous to be let anywhere near the White House again,” Biden-Harris 2024 Spokesperson Sarafina Chitika said in a statement responding to Trump’s Saturday speech.

The former president’s economic platform has so far been centered around a hardline tariff policy on all imports, pressuring the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates and extending his first-term tax cuts. Economists expect those proposals would reheat inflation if they go into effect.

On Saturday, Trump also doubled down on his proposal to eliminate taxes on tipped income and he walked back prior comments about cutting Social Security.

“As President I will not cut one penny from Social Security or Medicare,” Trump said, months after he said he would consider Social Security cuts in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

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