The third and final presidential debate could represent the last chance for Republican nominee to cut into the lead of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
But as Clinton backs away from the rigors of campaigning to prepare for the showdown Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Trump has stayed out on the trail. He has two rallies scheduled Tuesday, choosing to address his most ardent supporters instead of strategizing about ways to win over undecided voters on the event's big stage. Scientific polls showed voters felt Clinton won both the first and second debates, but that has seemingly not motivated the GOP nominee's camp to ramp up preparation. They've said they feel it's best for Trump to be out and about talking with voters.
CNN's Carol Costello asked Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway Wednesday if there was "anything different that we saw this time in terms of debate prep that hasn't been done in the past." Conway first contradicted the polls by saying Trump had won the second debate and rattled Clinton. Conway then addressed the upcoming debate.
"He loves these forums," she said. "He loves the debates because you know, he is the one out there every single day ... talking to people at rallies, at forums. He's not taking five days off the trail like she is. And that's her personal choice. I know scarcity is her strategy. The less people see her the more they forget that they don't like her, don't trust her."
Clinton took four full days off before debate day, part of a calculated risk on the part of the campaign. "We don’t like to have to take a lot of time off the trail to do that, but we have found that that is very worthwhile," Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, said of debate prep last week, via ABC News. "This is the last one. We are hoping for another large audience and it’s her last time in front of the biggest audience and we want to make sure we’re back the best use of that."
Clinton's debate prep has largely been described as studious and careful. A New York Times story on the candidates' preparations for the first debate, meanwhile, said Trump was "approaching the debate like a Big Man on Campus who thinks his last-minute term paper will be dazzling simply because he wrote it." After losing the first debate, Trump attempted to prep better for the second event. He used a campaign stop to get familiar with event's town hall format and reportedly practiced against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an experienced politician and Trump surrogate.
It's unclear how much debate prep, if any, Trump is squeezing in between campaign stops, but he likely needs a strong performance Wednesday night to make up ground on Clinton. He trails the Democratic nominee by nearly 7 points nationally, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.
The strongest factor working in Trump's favor might just be low expectations. After underperforming in the first two debates and falling sharply in the polls, the bar for a "good Trump performance" is likely pretty low.