While former President Donald Trump seems more than eager to debate President Joe Biden, the sitting president’s re-election campaign is silent on its plans to put 81-year-old Biden on the general election debate stage.
Less than a year out from the presidential election, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced the three dates for next year’s forums. Though Trump previously said in June he would debate Biden, questions about if he would attend the general election debates have seemingly risen as the former president continues to skip the Republican presidential primary debates.
But when asked if the former president — if the Republican presidential nominee — would participate in the general election debates, a senior Trump aide expressed enthusiasm.
“President Trump looks forward to debating Crooked Joe Biden next fall,” the aide told the Daily Caller. “The real question is whether or not Joe will debate President Trump. Specific to the Presidential Debate Commission, the campaign has not yet accepted the suggested terms made recently.”
The Biden campaign did not respond to multiple Daily Caller inquiries about whether the president could commit to debating Trump if he is the nominee or if the campaign could respond to the aide’s comments.
Dates for the Presidential Debates have been released, and we’re all prepping for a Trump v Biden showdown: pic.twitter.com/v0f1QYjwso
— Hilton Beckham (@hiltonsbeckham) November 22, 2023
Kate Bedingfield, a former White House communications director and Biden 2020 deputy campaign manager, told NBC News that it is “a good strategic decision to know who your opponent will be before you commit to debating them” adding that the Biden campaign doesn’t need to lock themselves into a decision yet.
Some questions about whether Biden will take the general debate stage revolve around concerns regarding his age. A majority of Americans think that the 81-year-old doesn’t have the mental or physical fitness to serve effectively in office, according to a Monday George Washington University and YouGov poll. (RELATED: ‘Doesn’t Look A Day Over 90’: Conservatives Celebrate Biden’s Birthday With A Look Back At His Year Of Gaffes)
“Trump will [debate]. Joe won’t,” Mark R. Weaver, a GOP strategist, told the Daily Caller. “Joe will find a reason not to. He’ll say that he can’t debate an election denier or by then if there’s been a conviction that you can’t debate a convicted person. He’ll find some reason to not have to stand up there and answer tough questions.”
In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump is the front runner by a significant margin. As of Wednesday, Trump is polling nationally at 61.3 percent, while the next closest candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is polling at 13.8 percent with former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley is at 9.9 percent, according to Real Clear Politics average.
Trump is also leading Biden in key swing states such as Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The former president is beating Biden nationally, too. A recent Emerson College poll shows Trump ahead of Biden, 47 percent to 43 percent, a jump from an October poll that showed the former president up by just two points.
Trump has skipped the last three presidential debates, instead choosing to meet with autoworkers and host rallies of his own. The former president is not expected to take the stage at the fourth debate on Dec. 6. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Rips RNC, Says They Have To Stop Debates)
Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, told the Daily Caller that he does not expect Trump to participate in the general election debates if it is a close race, adding that he thinks if the former president takes the stage he will have a lot of “awkward questions” to answer.
“I think the Biden campaign would love the opportunity [to debate Trump],” Bannon told the Daily Caller. “Biden performed well in the 2020 debate. I think they would love to get an opportunity to corner Trump on a lot of different things. I think they’d love to have a shot at them and take them on in 2024.”
The general election debates are scheduled for Sept. 16, Oct. 1 and Oct. 9. and will be hosted at Texas State University, Virginia State University and the University of Utah, respectively.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) withdrew from the CPD in 2022 as RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel argued the organization was “biased” and “has refused to enact simple and commonsense reforms,” NBC News reported. To participate in the 2024 general election debates organized by CPD, presidential candidates must meet a set of standards, including that they must be on enough state ballots that they have a chance of winning the Electoral College, must be constitutionally eligible to serve as president and the candidates must have at least 15% of the electorate backing them.
“The United States’ general election debates, watched live worldwide, are a model for many other countries: the opportunity to hear and see leading candidates address serious issues in a fair and neutral setting,” CPD co-chairs Frank Fahrenkopf and Antonia Hernández said in a Nov. 20 statement, NBC reported.
“This tradition remains unbroken since 1976,” Fahrenkopf and Hernández wrote.