According to the averages of public presidential polls, Vice President Joe Biden is clearly ahead in both the popular vote and the vote in key swing 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 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 and his ilk.
An astute friend suggested an interesting third option 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 Presidential candidates, yet Trump is the only Presidential candidate in modern history to refuse to disclose his finances and potential conflicts of interest.
Here is what I propose: Joe could agree to debate Trump—but only if Trump follows the same rules and traditions of releasing his income tax and financial reports that every other Presidential candidate in recent history has. This approach might put Trump on the horns of a dilemma because the public focus would be on his honesty and criminality, instead of on why Joe is hesitant to debate. This 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? Or refuse to debate unless Trump releases his finances?