Here’s Why I Still Don’t Think Biden Will Debate Trump

AP Photo

On Wednesday, after months of doubt and speculation, the Biden campaign officially made a decision about debating Donald Trump. The campaign officially declined to participate in the traditional three fall debates that the Presidential Debates Commission organized and instead offered to negotiate directly with the Trump campaign to have two debates: one in June and one in September.

Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon claimed that the Commission’s “model of building huge spectacles with large audiences at great expense simply isn’t necessary or conducive to good debates,” which sounds like a weird excuse.

Trump, for his part, called Biden’s bluff and accepted the challenge. "I'm ready to go," Trump told Fox News Digital. "The proposed June and early September dates are fully acceptable to me."

Does this mean the debates are going to happen? Call me crazy, but I’m still skeptical. Let’s think about this for a minute. Why is the Biden campaign suddenly calling for debates not sanctioned or organized by the Presidential Debates Commission after months of being noncommittal? Trump has faced criticism for blasting the commission in the past, and the left mocked the RNC’s decision to withdraw from the commission in 2022.

Biden’s public appearances have dumpster fires. Even with the help of a teleprompter, he can’t seem to talk his way out of a speech without humiliating himself, and when he goes off script, it’s like a train wreck you can’t look away from. Even his video challenge to Trump was bad.

"Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020,” Biden falsely asserted. "Since then, he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal. I’ll even do it twice. So let’s pick the dates, Donald. I hear you’re free on Wednesdays."

On average, the 13-second video had a jump cut every two seconds. The cuts are so frequent it’s jarring for the viewer, and they most certainly aren't in the name of creativity.

Related: Biden Campaign Officially Turns Down Presidential Debates Commission

The Biden campaign is no doubt aware of the potential peril a debate could pose to his campaign. Case in point: in 2022, Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) saw his poll numbers plummet following a disastrous debate with Dr. Mehmet Oz. Fortunately for Fetterman, the timing worked in his favor, as many had already voted, blunting the impact of the debate on the race. 

However, both of the debates the Biden campaign proposed would take place before early voting.

What’s going on here? Perhaps the schedule is more informative than we think. The first debate would be late June, presumably when Trump’s New York trial will be over. Is the Biden campaign banking on Trump being convicted so that Biden won’t have to debate him at all? Is Biden’s debate bravado just a show? 

Maybe Team Biden sees the New York trial for what it is: a show trial with the deck stacked so much against Trump that a conviction is almost inevitable. Of course, in the past few weeks, the prosecution’s witnesses have done major damage to the case against Trump, so, in a way this may be a gamble.

If Trump is either acquitted or there’s a hung jury, Biden does have options to back out. The debates could end up not happening during negotiations on the terms, with the Biden campaign claiming that the Trump campaign wasn’t negotiating in good faith. There will be disputes over moderators, debate formats, etc. 

The question of who will moderate the debates will likely be the main variable that the campaigns will struggle to agree on. After years of the Presidential Debates Commission selecting Democrat partisans as moderators, the Trump campaign is going to demand more balance, and the Biden campaign won’t like that.

I won't believe there are going to be debates until they take place.


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