Win or lose, tonight is President Donald Trump’s final appearance ever on a presidential debate stage.
His methods haven’t changed much since his first time out in a primary debate in 2015 — when he sparred with moderator Megyn Kelly and later made sexist attacks on her. He still enters the sessions relying primarily on his instincts as a brawler and doesn’t prepare nearly as much as his adversaries.
He held a brief and informal session earlier on Thursday with some of his team, but did not conduct a full mock debate before tonight.
That has been his practice for most of his relatively brief debating career. Trump has preferred more ad-hoc sessions, with advisers peppering him with questions during down moments, than a full dress rehearsal.
He’s had some hits and misses along the way. Some of his general election debates in 2016, and particularly his final one against Hillary Clinton, were viewed by his team as a success.
After that first debate with a large GOP primary field in 2015, many Republicans wondered how much longer they would have to contend with his outbursts and behavior.
Five years later, those traits — and those concerns — are as present as ever.