BERRYHILL: We Absolutely Need Presidential Debates In 2020
In one of the more predictable moves of the 2020 campaign cycle, Democrats have now advanced to the “we don’t really need debates” stage of the election season. You could see it coming from a mile away. It was as inevitable as Nancy Pelosi supporting the movement to take down statues of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
Never mind that debates help give voters an opportunity to hear the candidate’s stance on a variety of issues across the board and give voters an opportunity to truly contrast the two candidates.
The first official presidential debate in 1960 between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy was the first televised debate and it gave voters quite the contrast, as those listening on radio thought Nixon won but those able to observe the candidates on TV were more favorable to Kennedy.
Yet, the contrast between candidates was perhaps never more evident than during the 2016 debates with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
This year’s debates could likely challenge those 2016 debates when it comes to highlighting just how different the two candidates are.
The 2016 debates were a stage where Trump, the ultimate showman, could put on a performance. Meanwhile, Joe Biden struggles to make it through scripted speeches on a teleprompter without fumbling, leaving it extremely unlikely he will be able to survive a 2-plus hour unscripted debate without multiple gaffes.
In fact, the biggest issue facing Trump during these debates might be exercising self-restraint, so as to not embarrass Biden so badly that he becomes a sympathetic figure to viewers.
However, citizens deserved to have an informed choice. Part of that informed choice includes viewing live the cognitive functions of the candidates. If the candidate has trouble functioning in a debate, how can we expect that person to perform under extreme pressure and stress on a worldwide stage?
Not only is there much to glean from how a candidate performs on the debate stage, there are still crucial questions Biden has to answer for the American public.
For example, he’ll have to answer for his record on criminal justice. Despite being a surrogate for today’s woke mob, Biden will have to answer for his role in authoring a crime bill that is responsible for putting tens of thousands of minorities in jail for minor offenses. He’ll have to go on the record with his stance on the removal of statues for individuals like Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln that the mob has been removing without restraint or Democratic opposition.
Biden will also have some explaining to do on his position as it relates to China and answer for the profits received by his son, Hunter. He’ll have to explain to people in Pennsylvania and Michigan why he supports the Green New Deal that will destroy jobs in their state. These only scratch the surface when it comes to questions Biden has yet to answer.
Normally, Democrats would be able to coach a candidate on how to respond to those questions and thus mitigate any of the potential damage. But Biden is not any regular candidate.
He will be exposed on a debate stage where he isn’t surrounded by handlers, advisors, and consultants – that’s exactly why Democrats are so averse to these debates ever taking place.
President Trump is as sharp and quick-witted as ever. Sending Biden, who can be a hothead and often struggles to string thoughts together, out on a debate stage with Trump could end up being like sending livestock out for slaughter.
It’s obvious why Democrats are now angling for no debates. They believe their best chance to win this election is by minimizing Biden’s exposure to the public. What else could explain the fact he hasn’t held a press conference in more than 80 days? But is sheltering a candidate from the public for as long as possible leading up to the election really an acceptable strategy for electing an American president?
The American people deserve to see how candidates perform in real-time on a debate stage. To its credit, the Biden campaign’s official stance is that Joe Biden will participate in three debates. But just as was the case with Nixon in the 1960 debates, the contrast presented in the 2020 debates might make Biden wish he would have stayed in his basement a little longer.
Evan Berryhill is a lawyer, political strategist and former Capitol Hill staffer. You can follow him on Twitter @EvBerryhill.