Joe Biden Team: Trump Allies Touting ‘Imaginary Controversy’ About Biden Dodging Debates

Former Vice President Joe Biden, check his watch during a commercial break as he participa
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Joe Biden’s (D) team claims President Trump’s allies are pushing an “imaginary controversy” regarding the progressive chatter of nixing the presidential debates, despite establishment media outlets, and figures, repeatedly advancing the proposal themselves.

Biden spokesperson TJ Ducklo told CNN’s Oliver Darcy:

Donald Trump and his allies at Fox News have decided an imaginary controversy about debates will be their latest attempt to distract Americans from the president’s disastrous response to the coronavirus, which has cost 150,000 Americans their lives and left millions jobless.

“This is not a mystery. The debate commission has invited both candidates to participate in three debates. Joe Biden has accepted. Donald Trump has not. Mystery solved,” he added.

Erin Perrine, Director of Press Communications for the Trump Campaign, affirmed on Tuesday that the Trump campaign has, indeed, formally committed to the debate commission for the three scheduled debates in the fall.

Despite the Biden team’s view, it was just days ago that Bill Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart appeared on CNN, pressing Biden to refuse to debate the president. Days earlier, he published a piece, which ran on CNN, listing six things Biden must do now until the election in order to help win. Avoiding debates with the president made his list.

He wrote:

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.

Similarly, the New York Times recently ran an op-ed titled “Let’s Scrap the Presidential Debates,” which argued that debates are irrelevant.

Journalist Elizabeth Drew wrote in part:

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.

Yet the debates play an outsize role in campaigns and weigh more heavily on the verdict than their true value deserves.

There are several more examples, as Breitbart News’s John Nolte demonstrated:

A number of Democrats, including Bill Kristol, are urging that the debates be canceled.

A former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton agrees: “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,” Zac Petkanas tweeted last week.

And then there’s Thomas Friedman, an anti-Trump New York Times columnist, who urged Biden just last week not to debate the president unless Trump agrees to “two conditions.” Of course those conditions are ridiculous — Trump must release his tax returns and agree to “real-time fact checking” during the debate —  and will never be agreed to, and therefore ensure there will be no debates.

Nonetheless, establishment media figures are toeing the party narrative alongside the Biden campaign, contending that the push to cancel debates is nothing more than a brainchild of the GOP and Trump allies alike.

The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel referred to the “’Biden wants to cancel the debates’ meme” as a “TV invention,” and CNN’s own Brian Stelter referred to the subject as “mostly a right-wing media tempest, fueled by hour after hour of Fox commentary (not reporting), far removed from campaign reality,” despite his own network serving as a platform for progressive advocates of the proposal.

The three presidential debates are currently scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29; Thursday, Oct. 15; and Thursday, Oct. 22.


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