Rank-and-file Democrats want President Joe Biden to face off against insurgent Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and New Age guru Marianne Williamson. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) decided last month it would not hold primary debates.
Joe Biden and the Debate Question
A poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies of 1,500 voters found that 68% of eligible voters believe the Democratic Party should host primary debates. Only 15% said they thought the Democrats should not hold debates. Biden’s campaign co-chairwoman denied that the president is against debating.
“I know that the president does not have the concern or fear of debating anyone,” Biden campaign co-chairwoman Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester, D-Del., told News Nation. “And if you recall I don’t remember how many people were up on the stage when he debated before, and I was there during that first election.”
Recent polling put Kennedy at 19% and 21% among Democrats.
Kennedy’s uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, ran a spirited challenge to President Jimmy Carter during the 1980 primary season. At one point, Kennedy and Carter ran neck-and-neck in the polls before Carter defeated Kennedy.
He has an advantage in the area of name recognition, although his stance on vaccine safety and autism has proven controversial.
“The biggest is that his name is *ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.* and he is the son of one of the most famous Democratic politicians ever. The Kennedy name isn’t quite the golden ticket it used to be—just ask Joe Kennedy III, who is not a senator. But it’s still good enough to spot you a dozen polling points or so,” Slate columnist Jim Newell wrote.
Seventy percent of Americans said they did not want Biden seeking a second term; however, the president said last week that he felt up to the challenge of running as the oldest chief executive in American history.
Polling also shows that Democrats have unease about Biden’s age. If re-elected, he would be 86 at the end of a second term, three years older than former President Ronald Reagan was when he disclosed his battle with Alzheimer’s in 1994.
“If it’s Trump, Biden can do it. He’s already beaten him once, and Trump is no spring chicken. If Republicans put up a younger candidate, the age issue will be a major problem for Biden,” Fox News quoted Clinton Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich as having said in March. “I can tell you from experience and observation that the job of the American presidency is physically and mentally grueling even for people in their 40s. If re-elected, Biden would be 86 at the end of his second term (assuming he made it to the end). That’s deeply worrying.”
A No-Confidence Vote?
Analysts look at the call for debates by Democrats as a vote of no-confidence in their choice of Joe Biden as their party’s standard-bearer.
“The fact that such a high percentage of the Democratic electorate wants to see primary debates is confirmatory of polling showing just how dissatisfied rank-and-file voters are with their option of Joe Biden,” Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London’s Centre on U.S. Politics (CUSP), told Newsweek. “In the end, it doesn’t matter because a messy primary battle would be a nightmare for Democrats, and leadership would never agree to debates that have the potential to weaken Biden heading into the general election.”
John Rossomando is a senior analyst for Defense Policy and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award in 2008 for his reporting.