Q&A – Should Donald Trump Be Forced to Debate? How About Joe Biden?

Q&A of the Day – Should Donald Trump Be Forced to Debate? How About Joe Biden? 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.   

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Social: @brianmuddradio 

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.    

Today’s Entry: Good Morning Brian, I hope you are well. While I agree that it is ridiculous for the Republican party to make presidential candidates sign a pledge that they would support the eventual Republican nominee, I also think it should be mandatory that anybody who qualifies for the debate should actually be on stage, required to debate. Trump, the "master manipulator" has spun the truth once again by saying people already know what a "great" president he was and therefore, he has nothing to gain. However, in my opinion Trump has a lot to answer for and "lot to lose" in a debate and that's the real reason why he won't do it.  

The Republican National Committee should say that anyone with that many indictments should "not be allowed" to debate. If they took that position, Trump would likely be on the debate stage in a heartbeat (after filing yet another lawsuit). What a joke this man is! And what a mockery he has made of our country! Just another political move to benefit himself (the only one Donald Trump truly cares about), but it doesn't do a damn thing to help the people of our country decide the next Republican nominee. 

Bottom Line: We’re all entitled to our opinions, and you’ve certainly strongly stated yours. I’m happy to address your provocative line of thinking, that former President Donald Trump, should be forced to debate. However, first I’d like to take the opportunity to address one of your opinions and to also to provide data on contextual points articulated in your note. You have disdain for Trump. I get it. However, your comment regarding Trump having made a mockery of our country led to me laughing out loud. And not because of my personal views regarding the former, and perhaps future president, but because of the hilarity of that comment being made with Joe Biden currently operating as President of the United States. Never Trumpers like to say things like that, however the facts belie the messaging. When Trump was president there were no new wars. In fact, Trump ended one.  

One of President Trump’s first actions as Commander-in-Chief was to take the necessary action that the Obama-Biden administration didn’t, to end the ISIS califate which became so pervasive that there were numerous and regularly increasing attacks within the United States by those who’d been recruited by ISIS and had become radicalized by them. North Korea stopped missile testing in the Pacific. China wasn’t threatening the sovereignty Hong Kong had carved out nor were they threating a takeover of Taiwan. Afghanistan was stable. Ukraine was free from threats from Russia and OPEC had largely become irrelevant as the United States became energy independent. It’s easy for those who never liked Trump or who learned to dislike him after January 6th of 2021 to forget or choose not to acknowledges these immovable facts.  

Since Joe Biden became president, Hong Kong’s quasi-independence has been snuffed out. China is regularly threating a takeover of Taiwan. Afghanistan collapsed and is once again controlled by Islamic terrorists (who now also align with China). Russia has been at war with Ukraine for a year and a half. North Korea conducts regular ballistic missile tests and not only is OPEC’s policy highly relevant once again, but the United States is also once again reliant on energy produced and imported from OPEC nations. That’s not at all to speak of the walking talking gaff machine that Joe Biden is on a daily basis which includes anytime he’s meeting with foreign leaders. The point is this. If you don’t like Donald Trump, that’s understandable. But to assert that he’s made a mockery of this country given his track record as president on the most important function that speaks directly to his effectiveness with foreign leaders is a tough sell. One that’s only that much more absurd when juxtaposed with what we’ve had in terms of leadership in the two and a half years since. And that takes me to the contextual data.  

First, regarding my assertion that Trump made the United States and the world for that matter a safer place, The Harvard Center for American Political Studies found 62% of voters, including wide majorities of Independents and Republicans, believe Russia wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine if Trump had still been president. My assertion is solidly the majority opinion. And that takes me to Trump’s assertion that he was a “great president”.  Now, do most Americans think Donald Trump was a “great” president? With an average approval rating of 41% while president the answer is certainly no. In the context of this being a Republican Primary as opposed to a general election...By a 77% to 13% Republicans did/do approve of his presidency. That’s also why he’s a prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination polling with an average of 56% support nationally. As for the notion that any qualifying party candidate should be forced by a political party to participate in a debate... My question for you would be why now?  

There are lots of ways I could illustrate the point that Trump’s choosing to not take the debate stage as a prohibitive favorite is normal, but I’ll start here. Did you know that Gerald Ford was the last incumbent president to debate in a presidential primary? Donald Trump certainly didn’t debate Bill Weld in the 2020 primary process, and Weld would have easily qualified for a debate given the current GOP standards. Trump eventually won 94% of the Republican Primary vote. That was a far better intraparty performance than his predecessor. Did you know that Barrack Obama only won 89% of the Democrat primary vote in 2012? He certainly wasn’t asked to debate John Wolfe Jr. or any of the other challenges who collected a double-digit percentage of the Democrat primary vote. I could continue to track backward to illustrate the point, but perhaps the most obvious example in the one in front of us right now?  

Joe Biden is only averaging 64% of the Democrat primary party support this cycle. That’s the lowest showing by an incumbent president since Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter prior to dropping out after Chappaquiddick revelations rocked the 1980 contest leading to Kennedy dropping out. So yes, Joe Biden is only polling 8% higher in his party’s primary process than Donald Trump is in his party’s process. Where’s the outcry demanding Joe Biden debate his challengers? I’d say in terms of having “something to lose”, as you put it, that shoe would certainly fit on that side of the isle. And in terms of helping the people of the country decide, wouldn’t the same principle apply? In fact, because he’s the current President of the United States and a broad cross section of the public, including within his own party, have questions about his physical and mental ability to continue to serve in that capacity I’d say that would be far more instructive and important. Yet where are those outcries and where is the demand for the Democrat party to make Joe Biden debate with what would currently be two other candidates who would qualify based on the DNC’s previous presidential primary debate requirements?  

For what it’s worth, I think it’s more instructive for Republican primary voters who potentially want a Trump alternative to have a debate without him. A Trump-led debate would mostly be about him. A debate without him will provide a better opportunity for the other candidates to have their moments to attempt to connect with voters and for them to debate amongst themselves. And to that end, I actually think Trump’s decision to skip the debate isn’t the best one for him tactically. But speaking of tactics, a contributing reason for Trump not being on a debate stage pertains to the indictments. When pressed on direct questions about pending legal matters there would be the potential for Trump to make statements that may be used against him in the pending cases. Had these indictments not happened there’s likely a far better chance Trump would choose to debate – though the loyalty pledge would still be a sticking point. 

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