House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Thursday that there should be no presidential debates between President Trump and Democrat nominee Joe Biden (D), dismissing them as nothing more than an “exercise in skullduggery.”
“I myself — don’t tell anybody I told you this. Especially don’t tell Joe Biden. I don’t think that there should be any debates,” the speaker bluntly stated, fueling the concerns of those who suspect Biden will cave to outside pressure and skip the presidential debates:
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 27, 2020
“I do not think that the President of the United States has comported himself in a way that has any association with truth, evidence data, and facts,” she said. “I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States.”
While she acknowledged that the Biden campaign “thinks in a different way” about the subject, she drilled her point, criticizing Trump’s conduct in the 2016 debates with failed challenger Hillary Clinton.
“But I just thought what he did in 2016 was disgraceful— stalking Hillary Clinton like that,” she said, expressing disappointment in the press for refusing to tell Trump, “Go back to your station. You’re not here. You don’t own this stage. You have your own podium. She has hers.”
She told reporters she believes Trump will “act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency” because he “does that every day.”
“But I think he will also belittle what the debates are supposed to be about,” she continued while accusing him of attempting to undermine the election.
“I don’t think that he [Joe Biden] should dignify that conversation with Donald Trump,” she added, suggesting separate events with conversations between the candidates and the American people.
“Let that be a conversation with the American people, not an exercise in skullduggery,” she added.
Pelosi’s call follows mounting pressure from pundits and media allies, urging Biden to forgo the traditional presidential debates. The pressure has put critics, who believe Biden could agree and opt out of the debates, on high alert.
However, his campaign has previously dismissed the concerns as an “imaginary controversy.”
“The debate commission has invited both candidates to participate in three debates. Joe Biden has accepted,” Biden spokesperson TJ Ducklo told CNN’s Oliver Darcy at the beginning of the month.
President Trump’s campaign has since sought assurances from the Commission on Presidential Debates that Biden will debate the president in person.
An August 6 letter penned by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani read in part:
We must insist on a commitment that the two candidates will definitely appear on stage, in person – whether in a television studio without an audience or elsewhere – and not through separate, online transmissions where Mr. Biden could rely on notes, teleprompter, or handlers.
While we do understand that Mr. Biden has been sequestered in his basement in Wilmington, Delaware, for some time, President Trump still believes that the American people deserve to see the candidates for president side by side at some point.
Three presidential debates are currently scheduled for Tuesday, September 29; Thursday, October 15; and Thursday, October 22.
Notably, it will be Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) — not Joe Biden — who will deliver a rebuttal of President Trump’s Republican National Convention speech Thursday night.