Ahead of the first debate-stage match-up between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, each campaign is promising a stark contrast in policy, personality and preparation.
Trump has decided to skip any formal preparation.
And while Biden's team believes the significance of the debate may be exaggerated, the Democratic nominee has been aggressively preparing to take on the president.
Biden's campaign has been holding mock debate sessions featuring Bob Bauer, a senior Biden adviser and former White House general counsel, playing the role of Trump, according to a person with direct knowledge of the preparations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal strategy.
"I'm sure the president will throw everything he can at (Biden)," said Jay Carney, a former aide to Biden and President Barack Obama.
"My guess is that they're preparing for that -- bombarding him with insults and weird digressions,"
Trump and Biden are scheduled to meet on the debate stage for the first time Tuesday night at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
The 90-minute event moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace is the first of three scheduled presidential debates.
Vice-President Mike Pence and California Senator Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, will also debate in October.
For some, the debates represent the most important moments in the 2020 campaign's closing days, a rare opportunity for millions of voters to compare the candidates' policies and personalities side-by-side on prime-time television.
Trump has been trailing Biden in the polls for the entire year, a reality that gives the president an urgent incentive to change the direction of the contest on national television if he can.
Others, including those close to Biden's campaign, do not expect the debates to fundamentally change the race no matter what happens, given voters' daily struggles with the pandemic and the economy.
They also point to high-profile debates in past elections thought to be game-changing moments at the time but that ultimately had little lasting effect.
Those with knowledge of Biden's preparations suggest he will not take the fight to Trump if he can avoid it.
Trump has not been doing any formal preparation, according to aides and allies who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Trump, instead, has maintained that the best preparation is doing his day job - particularly his frequent and often contentious interactions with reporters.
Privately some aides and allies are worried that Trump's lack of formal preparation will lead him to fall into the same hubris trap as other incumbents in their first general election debate.
But other Trump backers are confident that the president is ready to handle any tough questions or pushback from Biden.
"The debates matter," said Lara Trump, a senior adviser to the campaign and the president's daughter-in-law.
"Donald Trump certainly did a great job on the debates (in 2016) and I think this will be no different."
Australian Associated Press