A few weeks ago, if you recall, the universal refrain of Trump supporters was that Joe Biden was so senile and incapable of stringing a sentence together that he’d likely pull out of the debates.
How times change:
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) October 8, 2020
The official reason is that the debate commission has changed the second debate to be some kind of virtual affair, where both Trump and Biden dial in remotely via video link to answer questions from undecided voters.
Trump, apparently, thinks this would be unfair. Would it?
It’s useful, in answering that question, to think about how we’d answer it if Joe Biden tried the same trick. One suspects that, in that alternate universe, the Trump campaign would be crying about how Biden is running scared.
But maybe this move makes sense for Trump. He very clearly did not win the first debate. It was arguable at the time, but the polling has only moved in one direction since then – from a comfortable 5-8 point Biden lead to a blowout 10+ point Biden lead.
Trump’s been so central to the campaign, in fact, that Biden has basically skated through it without having to answer a single hard question. Part of that – a very large part of it – is that Trump is facing a historically hostile, partisan, media, which is openly rooting for his defeat, and for Biden to win.
But another part of it is that Trump just can’t get out of his own way. All Biden has to do is sit back and watch as the latest tweet flies from Trump’s account, and leads the news.
Maybe if Trump avoids the debate, and hides away in general for the next few weeks, the media will finally get bored enough to ask Biden a few hard questions.
But that’s unlikely. Not doing the debate is one thing – but he’s still going to tweet, and rally, and generally make himself the centre of attention. And the election is going to come down to a simple question of “do you like Trump”?
Lots of people do, of course, and he’ll get their votes. He’d better hope that they’re a majority, because all the evidence of the polls suggests that they are not.