Joe Lockhart: “Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump.”
A spokesperson for the Joe Biden campaign insisted today that Biden “looks forward” to participating in debates with Trump.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is “very much looking forward to debating Donald Trump,” the former vice president’s campaign deputy manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield told “America’s Newsroom” on Monday.
She added that the Biden campaign has already agreed to the upcoming three presidential debates, while the Trump campaign has not.
The Biden campaign is forced to answer such questions because a growing chorus of Democrat voices who are worried that Biden might blow his current polling lead in a debate. Here’s former Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockart, writing at CNN on July 28, Joe Biden could still lose this election:
… it’s not irrational to conclude that Trump can’t win this election. In fact, I believe he can’t. The public does not trust him to handle the problems the country faces, and they are rejecting across the board his vision of America. Nixon won the culture war in 1972. Trump’s vision of the US, rooted in 1970’s America, is doomed to failure in my opinion.
But the election is not really over for one reason — Biden can lose this election. He’s run a very effective campaign to date, but now we’re getting to crunch time as many Americans are just starting to focus on the race. To avoid a Biden loss, I believe he must do the following over the next 99 days.
* * *
5. Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump. Trump has now made more than 20,000 misleading or false statements according to the Washington Post. It’s a fool’s errand to enter the ring with someone who can’t follow the rules or the truth. Biden will undoubtedly take heat from Republicans and the media for skipping the debates. But it’s worth the risk as trying to debate someone incapable of telling the truth is an impossible contest to win.
Lockhart reiterated his position in an interview:
Trump “will take the truth and destroy it, and Biden will be in the position of correcting him over and over and over again. I don't think he should give him that platform.” pic.twitter.com/4EOR4Q9Um7
— CNN (@CNN) August 1, 2020
Lockhart is not alone among Democrat and ant-Trump political types in warning Biden not to debate Trump:
Several opinion columns published in recent months have called for an outright cancellation of the debates, describing them — alongside the party conventions — as outdated political rituals designed purely for TV ratings.
Longtime Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Zac Petkanas agreed with calls for Biden to back out of any and all debates with Trump in the coming months. As it stands currently, there are three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate scheduled between September 29 and October 22.
“Biden shouldn’t feel obligated to throw Trump a lifeline by granting him any debates at all. This is not a normal presidential election and Trump is not a legitimate candidate,” Petkanas tweeted last week, expressing his “opinion that no one asked for.” ….
Political commentator Bill Kristol, a so-called “Never Trump” conservative, praised Notre Dame for withdrawing as host of the first presidential debate over coronavirus concerns.
“Good. No need to go to any trouble to replace this debate. Indeed, I gather Biden’s already all booked up with zoom calls in those weeks. Also, the Jewish holidays. And the new Perry Mason series. Too bad!” Kristol quipped on Twitter.
I don’t believe in coincidences in politics. So it’s no coincidence, in my view, that the NY Times just ran an Op-Ed by consummate D.C. class journalist Elizabeth Drew calling for getting rid of debates all together:
Nervous managers of the scheduled 2020 presidential debates are shuffling the logistics and locations to deal with the threat of the coronavirus. But here’s a better idea: Scrap them altogether. And not for health reasons.
The debates have never made sense as a test for presidential leadership. In fact, one could argue that they reward precisely the opposite of what we want in a president. When we were serious about the presidency, we wanted intelligence, thoughtfulness, knowledge, empathy and, to be sure, likability. It should also go without saying, dignity….
So for Drew, it’s all about neutral principle? Well, there’s this guy Trump who makes it too risky this time around:
Moreover, we didn’t need the debates to tell us that Trump had chosen to be the P.T. Barnum of American politics. For him, it was (and still is) all about the show, about distracting the public from reality….
The debates took us nowhere nearer the realities about arguably the most disastrous president in our history. They became simply another tool in his arsenal.
Drew provides “dignified” political and media cover for the Biden campaign to find an excuse come the fall not to debate.
I think that will be a hard sell for Biden. He will suffer damage from not debating, but a lot less damage than tens of millions of people, who finally are tuning into politics, witnessing something like this:
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