Will Biden’s Debate Gamble Work?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

For months now, the Biden campaign has been mum about debating Trump. Then the campaign came to the realization that it would look horrible if Biden, the incumbent president, refused to debate Trump. Especially considering that Biden is down in the polls, at this point, there must have been a reluctant acceptance within the campaign that Biden truly has nothing to lose by debating Trump. 

Hence the reason for the highly controlled environment that the Biden campaign demanded for the debates. Unlike past dialogues hosted by the Presidential Debates Commission, Biden's campaign demands no live audience for 2024 debates, with microphones that are only on while each candidate is meant to speak and that are only hosted by media outlets friendly to him.

If the debate challenge was a bluff, it backfired spectacularly, because Trump quickly accepted invites to appear at a debate hosted by CNN on June 27 and another hosted by ABC News on September 10. 

Related: Biden Campaign Chickens Out on More Debates

I was honestly surprised that Donald Trump was so quick to accept the terms proposed by Biden. Trump has previously bashed the Presidential Debates Commission for being so partisan, and yet, he didn't hesitate. He could have easily offered a compromise of having one left-leaning network host a debate and one right-leaning network host the other, or having each candidate provide a list of acceptable moderators who could co-host each debate.

Trump's willingness to accept Biden's terms shows just how confident he is that the debates will work in his favor. Meanwhile, the rigid guidelines Biden proposed and his refusal to agree to more than just those two debates show that his campaign is not nearly as confident about these duals as they are pretending to be. And why would they be? Biden struggles to be coherent when using a teleprompter. I can only imagine how difficult a decision this was for the campaign that has spent months establishing an "out" so Biden wouldn't have to debate Trump to finally conclude that not debating him was the riskier option.

Related: Biden's Proposed Terms Reveal His Fear of Debating Trump

The campaign doesn't need Biden to win the debates; they just need him to survive them and let the left-wing spin doctors do what they usually do: claim he won. They put a lot of stock in Biden's State of the Union address, and from their perspective, it worked, albeit briefly.

Now, with Biden trailing in the polls and the election getting closer, there's a closing window of opportunity for him to reset his campaign. He's lost support from key demographics that Democrats can usually count on, Americans are overwhelmingly sour on his economy, and let's face it, he's not getting any younger. Meanwhile, the lawfare strategy against Trump hasn't worked and only seems to have helped the former president, as voters realize he's the target of a partisan justice system. In a way, as silly as it may seem to have Biden debate Trump, what other options does the campaign have at this point? 

It's a Hail Mary strategy, to be sure.


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