Letter to the Editor / THE DEBATE ABOUT THE DEBATE

By Roger C. Kostmayer

According to the averages of public presidential polls, Joe Biden is clearly ahead in both the popular vote and the vote in key states.  Unless there’s a sudden major event that turns the race upside down, the presidency is Joe’s to lose.  Republican advisors are hoping that President Trump can pull off an October surprise or a knockout in a nationally televised debate – either by outrageous attacks or a significant Biden misstep.

Some Biden advisors ask why risk a debate, and they recommend that Joe be upfront, refuse to debate and just run out the clock, even if that puts him in an unprecedented position that will be exploited by Trump.

An astute friend suggested an interesting third option that’s based on Trump’s own unprecedented position in refusing to disclose his taxes and finances.  Fairness and transparency are important if the American people are to get relevant information about both candidates.  Trump is the only presidential candidate in modern history to refuse to disclose his finances and potential conflicts of interest.  Joe could agree to debate – but only if Trump follows the same rules and traditions of releasing his income tax and financial reports that every other presidential candidate has. This approach might put Trump  on the horns of a dilemma because the public focus would be on Trump’s honesty and criminality, instead of focusing on why Joe is hesitant to debate. The strategy assumes Trump loses either way- he loses his last chance to debate, or he loses by confirming that he’s a crook.

What would you advise Joe to do: Debate; Refuse to debate; or Refuse to debate unless Trump releases his finances?