by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In a hard-fought presidential campaign, even debates are subject to debate as supporters of President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden each try to present the other as unwilling participants in the scheduled fall presidential debates.
“President Trump is looking forward to debating Joe Biden, who is the only one who is being publicly advised to skip debates,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told the Washington Examiner. “In fact, we have asked for a greater number of debates and an earlier calendar.”
The Trump campaign has increasingly sounded the alarm over the debates occurring too late for early voting. “Voters in 16 states will already be casting their early votes before the first debate takes place on Sept. 29 as the schedule stands now,” Murtaugh said. “We don’t think it’s too much to ask that Americans get a look at the two candidates side by side before voters start voting.”
But the Biden campaign dismissed the mounting speculation, mostly in conservative circles, that its candidate would decline to participate in the debates. “Donald Trump and his allies at Fox News have decided an imaginary controversy about debates will be their latest attempt to distract Americans from the president’s disastrous response to the coronavirus, which has cost 150,000 Americans their lives and left millions jobless,” Biden spokesman T.J. Ducklo said in a statement to CNN.
Instead, the Biden camp turned the debate-ducking accusation back on Trump. “This is not a mystery,” Ducklo added. “The debate commission has invited both candidates to participate in three debates. Joe Biden has accepted. Donald Trump has not. Mystery solved.”
Plenty of commentators who are plausibly seen as more sympathetic to Biden than Trump have called for getting rid of the presidential debates. …