Biden says he hopes he is not ‘baited into a brawl’ when he meets with Trump in general election debates

DEMOCRATIC presidential nominee Joe Biden said that he hopes he doesn't get "baited" into a "brawl" with President Trump during general election debates.

During a Thursday virtual fundraiser, Biden – who the president often refers to as "Sleepy Joe" – said he looks forward to holding Trump accountable on the debate stage.

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"I think I know how to handle bullies," he said. "We'll find out."

"I hope I don't get baited into getting into a brawl with this guy," he added.

Trump got much flak after the 2016 presidential debates for appearing to hover around Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in several clips.

The first presidential debate between Trump and Biden will take place in Cleveland on September 29. The second will be October 15 in Miami and the third will be October 22 in Nashville.

Biden's running mate Kamala Harris is scheduled to debate current Vice President Mike Pence on October 7 in Salt Lake City.

During his virtual fundraiser, which kicked off with a performance by Bon Jovi, Biden also slammed the president for speaking to journalist Bob Woodward, and admitting that he was aware back in February of how serious a threat the coronavirus was to public health.

"This is a man who lied to the American people," Biden said.

"[His] failings have not only cost lives, they've cost livelihoods and sent the economy into a tailspin."

For his new book "Rage," Woodward collected interview recordings with Trump. In them, Trump apparently admits that he was aware that the virus could be five times "more deadly" than the flu and that he "downplayed" the severity to avoid creating panic.

Biden also spoke about the book during a recent CNN interview, where he called the comments Trump made "disgusting."

"It was all about making sure the stock market didn't come down, that his wealthy friends didn't lose any money and that he could say anything, that in fact anything that happened had nothing to do with him," Biden said.

"He waved a white flag. He walked away. He didn't do a damn thing," he added, calling Trump's coronavirus response "almost criminal."

For his part, Trump has slammed Woodward's book as a "hit job," and attempted to make the point that the Biden campaign didn't issue any early warnings about the coronavirus either.

"If you look at the representatives of Joe Biden, you see what they were saying. They were saying ‘no problem’, ‘this won’t be a problem,'" Trump said about the virus during an appearance on Fox News.

"He didn’t think it was going to be a problem until months later. He was way late."

When speaking with reporters Wednesday, Trump admitted to "downplaying" the virus, but said he only did it to prevent panic within the US.

"You have to show leadership and leadership is confidence in our country," he said.

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