Democrats appear to be laying the groundwork for presidential nominee Joe Biden to duck the debates with President Trump, a risky move that could easily end up backfiring.
“I don’t think there should be any debates,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference. “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data and facts.”
Whatever that means.
What Pelosi is really saying is that Democrats fear that Trump will win the debates against the 77-year-old Biden, who has faced questions about his mental sharpness.
Biden is ahead in the polls by a few points nationally and in key battleground states but a bad performance in the debates, scheduled to kick off on Sept. 29, could be the only thing that denies the Democrats’ White House hopes.
So why not just skip them and put up some phony argument about Trump not being capable of telling the truth?
“I think that he’ll probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency,” Pelosi said. “He does that every day. But I think he will also belittle what the debates are supposed to be about.”
The House speaker, who carries a lot of weight within the party, actually suggested the candidates appear on separate stages to take questions from a panel and from voters — thereby avoiding a confrontation with their opponent. She invoked the 2016 debates, where Trump lurked behind Hillary Clinton.
What a hypocrite. If Trump or some GOP official had suggested canceling the debates there would have been universal outcry from the establishment and the esteemed Commission on Presidential Debates.
Pelosi’s trial balloon could be the beginning of what turns out to be a coordinated effort by Democrats to convince the public and the mainstream media that Trump will use the debates to bend the truth and intimidate Biden.
Biden, to his credit, has so far resisted joining in on the debate boycott, saying “I’m gonna debate him. I’m gonna be a fact-checker on the floor while I’m debating him.”
But Biden has shown a willingness to cave to the left before and no doubt could be swayed on the debates, if there’s a groundswell of support in the media and the party to keep Trump and the former vice president off the stage together.
It would be an unprecedented decision by Biden’s campaign to skip the debates and an insult to voters who expect the two nominees to meet face-to-face to defend their past, their plans and their policies. Skipping the debates would make Biden look weak and afraid of defending his own record.
But 2020 has proven to be an unprecedented sort of year, so don’t be surprised if other Democrats and their media partners take up Pelosi on her suggestion.
The first debate is set for Sept. 29; two more are scheduled for Oct. 15 and 22.
The debate between Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is set for Oct. 7.
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