Biden Gets His Wish to Debate Trump. But It’s Not Going to Be The Win He Thinks It Is.

Ingrid Jacques | 16 May 2024
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The fact that the incumbent's team is supportive of a much earlier-than-normal debate is a sign that they recognize the president is struggling in the polls.

Joe Biden really is delusional.

The president seems to think that debating Donald Trump, his presumed Republican presidential rival, is a good idea. 

After Biden taunted Trump to acquiesce to a match Wednesday morning, the former president quickly responded that he is ready to “rumble.”

Bring on the popcorn.

Two debates are scheduled, the first of which is set for June 27 in Atlanta. The next will follow in September.

In a video in which he looked rather angry and squinty, Biden goaded Trump (who didn’t need any goading) by saying “make my day, pal.” He also made a dig at Trump’s ongoing hush-money trial in New York by suggesting that Trump is “free on Wednesdays,” when the court doesn’t meet. 

Biden got the debate ball rolling late last month when he somewhat unexpectedly said in an interview with radio host Howard Stern that he’s “happy to debate him.” 

Shortly thereafter, Trump responded with: “Crooked Joe Biden just announced that he’s willing to debate! Everyone knows he doesn’t really mean it, but in case he does, I say, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANYPLACE.”  

Up until then, Biden and his campaign had been vague about answering Trump’s calls to debate. 

Good luck, Biden. You’ll need it. 

Regardless, it’s hard to see how any of this will benefit Biden. 

The president, 81, has aged visibly in front of the nation the last four years and has had a string of gaffes and uncomfortable moments in recent months. The majority of voters are concerned about his age.

Biden evaded criminal charges in mishandling classified documents earlier this year because the special prosecutor concluded that “at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” 

Biden gets a pass:Special counsel says Biden is 'elderly man with a poor memory.' And he's the Democrats' guy?

If Biden can’t even read a teleprompter without problems, it’s hard to see how a high-stakes, on-your-feet exchange with someone like Trump will benefit him.

Trump has plenty of faults, but he’s an entertainer and knows how to keep an audience engaged. Sparring is his specialty.

Not so much for Biden. 

And even though at 77 he is also elderly, Trump doesn't show his age in the same ways Biden does (and polls confirm that many Americans agree).

Early debate signals Biden campaign woes

Despite the Biden campaign’s projected optimism, the fact that the incumbent's team is supportive of a much earlier-than-normal debate is a sign that they recognize the president is struggling in the polls. 

Biden blunders again:Trump's trial drama is salacious, but don't overlook Biden's blunders and bizarre stories

Presidential debates don’t usually take place until the fall. For instance, in 2020, Biden and Trump had their first tête-à-tête in late September. 

The president's debate gambit is a strong sign that Biden realizes he needs to turn things around – and soon. 

Recent polls from The New York Times, Siena College and The Philadelphia Inquirer show that Trump leads Biden among registered voters in five of six critical battleground states: Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Biden edges Trump only in Wisconsin.

None of this is good news for Biden, who probably thought he could skate to victory simply by watching Trump implode through his various criminal trials.

That’s not happening, however. And fractures among Biden’s Democratic Party over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war aren’t helping. 

Biden may have gotten his wish to debate Trump. But it's not going to help his reelection dreams come true. 

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. 

This article was originally published on USA TODAY.
Views in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect CGS policy.