Trump Campaign Demands Extra Debates with Biden, But Trump Just Dodged on Whether He Would Debate Biden
President Donald Trump’s campaign is publicly demanding more debates with Joe Biden, which Biden’s campaign has rejected. But when Trump was asked if he would debate Biden in a recent interview, he wouldn’t say.
Trump cast doubt, in December, on whether he would show up for any general election debates at all, and in March, he made an unfounded claim that it was Biden who would seek to avoid debates, telling The Washington Examiner “I know they want to try and get out of the debate by saying they won’t be able to debate because of Covid-19.”
But this week, the Trump campaign has begun publicly agitating for at least one extra general election debate. On Thursday, campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted a report on the demand — made to the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates — along with the message “Come on out, Joe.”
Former senior Hillary Clinton aide Neera Tanden responded that demanding more debates is usually a bad sign, writing of Parscale’s message that “When an incumbent is asking for more debates, that’s usually a sign of trouble. Wonder how long this campaign manager will last.”
When an incumbent is asking for more debates, that’s usually a sign of trouble. Wonder how long this campaign manager will last. https://t.co/e1t12SXedi
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) June 19, 2020
The demand also comes in the midst of a flaming flotilla of grim polls for Trump, a fact that doesn’t seem to have escaped the Biden campaign’s notice. Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield responded to the demand with a statement that referenced those polls, among other things:
Six months after announcing he did not want to debate, Donald Trump — now trailing in the polls — wants to change the subject from his failed leadership, and launch a ‘campaign” for many debates. But there’s a catch: he’ll only do it if he can pick the moderators.
We are not going to ride the roller coaster of the ever-changing Trump campaign position on debates, nor are we going to be distracted by his demands. We will make this simple: like every other Democratic and Republican candidate since 1992, we will show up for the debates set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, at the places they have selected, on the dates they have selected, with the formats and moderators they designate — so long as Donald Trump does the same, and does not intimidate the Commission into changes from past practices.
And with that settled, perhaps President Trump would like to take the time he is wasting on his debate distraction gambit, and use that time to fight COVID, fix the economy, address systemic racism, or do what he usually does: go to a Trump property at taxpayer expense to play golf.
Perhaps most tellingly, though, Trump himself doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo that debating Biden is a priority. During an interview released Thursday, Gray Television Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro told Trump “You’re behind in the polls in those battleground states right now,” and asked “What’s your plan to catch up to Joe Biden, and will you debate him in the fall?”
Trump complained at length about polls and assured the reporter he’s ahead “in my polls,” but didn’t say whether he’d debate Biden. It’s possible Trump just wandered away from the question, but he also hasn’t tweeted to demand debates, passing up two of his best chances to move the trash talk from a private conference call into a public challenge.
That’s not to say Trump won’t end up debating Biden, or that he will, but by having others make the demand on his behalf, Trump keeps his options much more open than if he joined in. And as Trump and his supporters are constantly reminding us, polls can change, and it may eventually be Biden who wants more debates.
Watch the clip above via Gray Television.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]