Former White House spokesman Joe Lockhart wrote last week that Democratic nominee Joe Biden should not debate President Donald Trump this fall reported Fox News. Lockhart was press secretary during the Bill Clinton administration.
Lockhart claimed that Trump doesn’t tell the truth or follow the rules so debating would be fruitless. Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump,” he wrote in an op-ed piece for CNN. “Trump has 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.”
The Washington Times reported former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s response to Lockhart’s assertions. “Joe’s got to show up,” Huckabee said. “If I were Joe Biden, I’d want to stay off the stage. There’s no way he can stand on the stage with President Trump and survive.”
Huckabee said that Lockhart’s claims were a smoke screen: “It’s just a way of trying to justify Joe pulling out of the debates because they know that it would be a cratering moment for him.”
Biden has been leading Trump in recent presidential polls. The former Vice President’s performance in the Democratic primary debates was uneven. Biden sometimes appeared lost or unable to articulate his thoughts. Biden’s health, both physical and mental, has been the subject of much speculation by the media and the public.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted “Basement Strategy, part 2,” in response to Lockhart. Cruz was referring to the way Biden so far has avoided doing many press interviews and has conducted his campaign primarily from the basement of his home during the coronavirus pandemic. Huckabee was critical of Biden’s strategy so far, saying, “you can’t run for president, you can’t be president and just say, let me know when this is all over because right now I’m in the hidey-hole, I plan to stay there until this all blows over. It doesn’t work like that.” Huckabee continued, “So yeah, he’s got to show up, and if he doesn’t, if he chickens out of the debate and refuses to go to the stage with President Trump, then I think it really hurts him.”
Televised debates have been a staple of most presidential elections since the 1960 race when John F. Kennedy’s debates with Richard M. Nixon drew large audiences eager to see the candidates side by side on a stage debating the issues of the day.