EPSHTEYN: Biden Should Have To Debate Before The First Votes Are Cast

Boris Epshteyn Contributor
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For a man who has been in politics for nearly 50 years, it seems incredible that Joe Biden is hoping to be elected president by voters who never even get a real look at who he is today.

Early voting begins in 16 states before the first presidential debate — two weeks, in some cases, before Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are first scheduled to debate in Cleveland, Ohio.

In the normal run of things, that might not be remarkable, but as 2020 never tires of reminding us, these are not normal times.

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with the ongoing wave of protests, riots, and destruction across the country, has provided the Biden campaign with a myriad of convenient excuses to keep their obviously enfeebled candidate hidden away from public view.

Even though Joe Biden has always been a gaffe machine, throughout most of his long political career he was undeniably a vigorous campaigner and an animated orator, whether his content was original or plagiarized.

Clearly, that is not the same man whose current campaign performance has been plagued by a seemingly never-ending torrent of embarrassing, confused mistakes and repeated bouts of apparent cluelessness.

The American people deserve a chance to see the current version of Joe Biden on stage with President Trump before deciding who should lead the country for the next four years. It is, however, painfully clear that the Biden campaign does not want that to happen. Presumably, they would prefer that the maximum number of voters get their ballots on record before anyone gets to see Biden’s inevitable debate meltdown.

Early voting will begin in several battleground states by the time the first currently scheduled debate is held on September 29. Voters in those states would be essentially disenfranchised by Biden’s refusal to participate in a debate in time for the start of those contests.

The Trump campaign, for its part, is having none of it. On Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien exposed the Biden camp’s strategy when his challenge to add a fourth debate for early voters went unanswered.

Indeed, pro-Biden voices in the media have “spontaneously decided” that debates are unnecessary as a whole — including the three debates that are already scheduled. A New York Times opinion piece, for instance, argues for a wholesale elimination of the entire tradition of presidential debates.

One can’t help but think that the sudden prevalence of anti-debate sentiments among Democrat politicos and liberal journalists has something to do with Donald Trump’s dominant debate performances in 2016. That race was always closer than the media let on, but it’s hard to deny the shift in momentum created when the American people saw Hillary Clinton out of her element, and now-President Trump so very much at the top of his game.

As his defenders are eager to point out, Biden’s own history with debates isn’t necessarily a cause for concern by itself. When Biden was widely seen as getting the upper hand over Mitt Romney‘s running-mate Paul Ryan in the 2012 vice presidential debate, for instance, the reactions from the journalistic establishment read something like “Joe Biden’s alpha-male display leaves Paul Ryan overwhelmed in VP debate” or “The Biden Opening Statement That Destroys Ryan & Romney.

Something is clearly different about Biden this time around compared to even eight years ago, and his handlers obviously know it. Their reticence to let their candidate debate President Trump before votes are cast is a grave disservice to the American people. Americans deserve to get a good look at the contrast between President Trump and today’s Joe Biden before casting the most important ballot of their lives.

Boris Epshteyn is the Strategic Advisor for Coalitions on the Trump 2020 Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.