Looking to capitalize on what the Trump campaign feels is a major weakness of their opponent, Rudy Giuliani will spearhead an effort to add more presidential debates this fall against Joe Biden.
The campaign feels that more debates mean more opportunities for Biden to stumble, as evidence shows his energy and stamina waning during his appearances on camera during the lockdown.
Three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate are already booked. But Trump apparently believes that the more the voter is exposed to Biden, the more doubt will be sowed in the minds of the American people.
Trump has raised questions about Biden’s mental capacity and nicknamed him “Sleepy Joe” to hammer the former vice president. More debates, Trump advisers contend, mean more chances for Biden to embarrass himself.
With an eye toward maximizing viewership, the campaign is also pushing for the debates to take place on weekday evenings other than Thursday so they don’t coincide with NFL games.
Giuliani, whom Parscale brought on to serve in an unpaid capacity, is making a return to the spotlight after playing a starring role in Trump’s impeachment. Giuliani, who was also involved in Trump’s 2016 debate prep, led an effort to dig up opposition research in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals.
I question the choice of Giuliani to head up this effort. The job calls for a negotiator, not a hatchet man. That said, no one questions Giuliani’s loyalty to the president, which is a big plus in his favor.
The president’s team is zeroing in on which moderators will be chosen and says both the reelection campaign and Biden should have a say. Trump repeatedly complained about debate moderators in 2016 — perhaps most famously over Megyn Kelly’s questioning of him in the first debate of the GOP primary.
The Trump campaign would have to go to another planet to find a moderator to Trump’s liking. The Commission on Presidential Debates will not choose Sean Hannity or anyone from One America News Network, the president’s favorite news channel. The president is going to have to settle for the usual array of left-wing writers and anchors who always end up asking questions like, “How many times did you beat your wife today, Mr. President?” Trump should be familiar enough with the process that he can easily deflect loaded questions and talk about what he wants to talk about.
Trump knows this and will be prepared.
It’s not the first time the Trump team has raised concerns about the fall debates. During a meeting with Fahrenkopf late last year, Parscale raised concerns about the ideological makeup of the commission. Trump tweeted in December, “The problem is that the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers.”
The problem as I see it is that debates are part of the expectations game. Biden doing “better than expected” would be a big win for him. Trump is gambling that Biden will stumble, at which point his weaknesses will be exposed for all to see.
I think it’s a pretty good bet given Biden’s questionable track record during the lockdown.