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Biden to debate for first time as front-runner

© Getty Images Joe Biden's aides see some potential problems for the former vice president in the upcoming Democratic debate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's aides are preparing him to do something that he's never done before in his decades of public service: walk onto a debate stage as the party's front-runner for the presidential nomination.

Biden has run for president twice before, both times as a huge underdog. Thursday night will mark the first time he takes center stage with a massive target on his back and 19 candidates itching to take him on.

In debate preparation sessions, Biden's aides have focused on two potential vulnerabilities — his propensity for long-windedness, which can lead to gaffes, and how to handle the pack of contenders that will be looking to cut him down or elevate their own candidacies through a viral exchange with the front-runner.

Biden's rivals, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who will be standing next to him on stage, are already sharpening their attacks ahead of the debate, which marks the first major inflection point in the race to the nomination.

"The sharks smell blood in the water," said one Democratic strategist.

THE HILL 25th June 2019

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