by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joe Biden has shut down debates this cycle, using the Wuhan coronavirus as the 77-year-old candidate’s excuse to call off challenges with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders when it’s actually become the Democrat nominee’s saving grace.
Now, as the general election season nears full bloom next month after each party’s nominating conventions, debates have re-entered the discussion as the Trump campaign requests more while Democrats and their allies in the media plea for Biden to steer clear of facing Trump head to head.
“Let’s Scrap the Presidential Debates,” headlined a New York Times opinion piece Monday.
“Biden better walk back any offers to debate Trump,” pushed the Boston Herald.
Others have been more direct.
“Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump,” former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart urged Biden in a CNN piece last week, arguing not that Biden’s struggle to form coherent sentences could prove problematic but instead President Donald Trump will spout unchecked lies to the millions of voters watching.
Thomas Friedman at The New York Times called on Biden to skip the presidential tradition unless Trump released his tax returns and agrees to a fact-checking team validating or correcting claims in real time.
“I worry about Joe Biden debating Donald Trump,” Friedman wrote frankly.
Biden’s allies have reason to worry. While the presumptive Democratic nominee made it through a primary of more than 25 candidates this year despite making a series of slip-ups, Biden’s apparent cognitive decline has become ever clearer as live mistakes have become far more frequent over the course of the summer.
A Zogby poll shows 55 percent of voters believe Biden is in the early stages of dementia. The former vice president’s constant slip-ups have led the campaign to limit their candidate’s media appearances by running a 20th-century campaign.