In an August 27 news conference, Pelosi advised Biden not to dignify or legitimize any debate or conversation with Trump, claiming that the president had not conducted himself in a manner associated “with truth, evidence, data and facts.” In addition, Pelosi also pointed to Trump's behavior during the 2016 debates – standing behind his rival Hilary Clinton while it was her turn to speak – calling it “disgraceful.” (Related: Pelosi declares Republicans to be “enemies of the state.”)
“I think that he’ll probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency … but I think he will also belittle what the debates are supposed to be about,” Pelosi said.
Instead of a face-to-face debate between the two candidates, Pelosi proposed that both candidates have “a conversation with the American people” on their own stage and answer each other’s arguments individually.
Biden, who previously served as vice president under former President Barack Obama, was nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in August. He picked California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. Harris will face current Vice President Mike Pence.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party nominated Trump to run for a second presidential term with Pence as his running mate.
Aside from Pelosi, other Democrats have also discouraged Biden from debating Trump. They raised concerns that the president would “repeat lies” he said during his earlier debate with Hillary Clinton four years ago.
“Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump,” warned former Press Secretary Joe Lockhart.
Some of Biden’s supporters have expressed their worries about his ability to remain focused during the 90-minute debate.
In a July interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Trump claimed that his Democrat rival “can’t put two sentences together” and was “mentally shot.” The president further remarked that Biden “doesn’t know he’s alive” and was not competent to be president.
In addition, Trump also challenged Biden to take a drug test alongside him before they meet on stage. The president noted the sudden improvement in the way the Democrat nominee debated against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders which he believed was the result of drug use.
Shortly after Pelosi made her remarks, however, Biden insisted that he would debate Trump on stage. Biden added that he himself would serve as the fact-checker during the debate, claiming that the incumbent president had “a somewhat pathological tendency not to tell the truth.” Biden said in a previous statement last July that he could “hardly wait” to debate Trump.
Four presidential debates are scheduled before the November polls, the first on September 29, followed by a second one on October 15 leading up to the final debate on October 22. Meanwhile, a vice presidential debate is scheduled to happen on October 7.
However, some of the venues where the debates were supposed to happen have withdrawn hosting due to concerns about the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Earlier in June, the University of Michigan backed out of hosting a debate scheduled for the month – prompting a move to a later date. The University of Notre Dame also backed out of hosting the September 29 debate, which resulted in a different venue being chosen.
Read more stories about Donald Trump’s campaign in the November 2020 elections at Trump.news.