The Wall Street Journal: Presidential debate is needed

Is President Biden going to debate Donald Trump as the November election nears? “I am. Somewhere. I don’t know when,” Mr. Biden said Friday in an interview with Howard Stern. “I’m happy to debate him.” Nice to hear, though we’ll believe it when we see it.

If the 81-year-old President wants to skip the stage this fall, Mr. Trump’s refusal to debate his GOP primary opponents has handed Mr. Biden an easy excuse. Now Mr. Trump, who for the record is 77, is demanding to debate early and often, because he wants to suggest that Mr. Biden isn’t up to taking hard questions.

Well, is he? Since Mr. Biden took office, according to Politico, he has given interviews to only two print reporters. He speaks only to friendly venues like Mr. Stern’s radio show. (We’re available for an interview on foreign or economic policy, sir.) Meanwhile, Axios reported Friday that Mr. Biden no longer walks solo to Marine One on the White House lawn. Instead he’s surrounded by a phalanx of aides because advisers worry that “videos of Biden walking and shuffling alone-especially across the grass-have highlighted his age.”

Mr. Biden’s forceful performance at the State of the Union was designed to dispel the idea that his next move ought to be retirement. Yet 63% of voters still think his public appearances “give credibility to the fears about his age and memory,” the Harvard-Harris poll found in March. Only 37% said Mr. Biden’s appearances are “just fine.”

The White House insists that despite his age Mr. Biden is as vigorous and capable as ever. When the New York Post asked why Mr. Biden has taken to wearing tennis shoes with his suits, this was the comment from deputy press secretary Andrew Bates: “I know y’all aren’t partial to presidents who exercise, but don’t worry-you’ll get used to it.” More likely they’re afraid the President will fall.

Mr. Trump is ready to debate “ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANYPLACE,” he wrote on the internet Friday. “I suggest Monday Evening, Tuesday Evening, or Wednesday Evening.” Mr. Biden won’t take that bait, but if he truly wants to debate, he should formally agree to somewhere, sometime, someplace. Otherwise voters might decide Mr. Trump is right about him.


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