News and Commentary

Biden Shouldn’t Debate Trump, Clinton’s Ex-WH Spokesman Says

Mike Huckabee: "Joe's got to show up"
WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JUNE 30: Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden holds up a mask as he speaks during a campaign event June 30, 2020 at Alexis I. Dupont High School in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden discussed the Trump Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A former press secretary for Bill Clinton has a strategy for Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential debates: Just don’t show up.

Joe Lockhart penned an op-ed piece for CNN in which he advises the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate to ignore the three debates, which begin Sept. 29.

“Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump,” Lockhart wrote last week. “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.”

And Lockhart on Sunday wrote on Twitter: “Debating @realDonaldTrump is like debating the last drunk in a bar at closing time. Anybody ever win one of those debates. We built a wall and Mexico paid for it. We’ve beaten the invisible enemy. Nobody’s been tougher on Russia. Get me one more drink bartender.”

Some Democrats have expressed the same sentiment, that Biden should simply skip the presidential debates.

Zac Petkanas, a former Hillary Clinton senior adviser, wrote on Twitter last week that Biden can skip the debates because Trump is not a “legitimate candidate,” and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said last month that Biden should debate Trump only if the president releases his tax returns and agrees to a real-time fact-check by an independent group during the debates.

But former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says the strategy won’t fly.

“Joe’s got to show up,” Huckabee said Sunday on Fox News, but he added that he understood Democrat’s desire to keep Biden off the stage. “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, according to The Washington Times.

Huckabee said Biden has got to come out of his basement if he wants to move into the White House. “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,” he said. “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.”

Commenting on Lockhart’s op-ed, Huckabee said: “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.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) mocked Lockhart’s op-ed on Sunday, writing on Twitter, “Basement strategy, part 2.”

In his op-ed, headlined “Joe Biden could still lose this election,” Lockhart also advised Biden: “Don’t be afraid to be boring. The public is tired of Trump’s act. They want competence to replace the reality show. Stick to your own game. Always be the adult in the race.”

The three presidential debates are scheduled to take place between Sept. 29 and Oct. 22.

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