- Wednesday, May 17, 2023

A recent poll found a majority of voters who backed President Biden in 2020 think he should face debates with other Democratic presidential candidates in the 2024 race.

The Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll tallied on April 30 found that 79% of eligible voters who voted for Mr. Biden agree that the Democratic Party should hold televised primary debates.

But Mr. Biden — and the Democratic Party — don’t care about voters.

Mr. Biden spent most of the 2020 campaign in the basement of his Delaware mansion. While then-President Donald Trump crisscrossed the country, sometimes hitting three states in one day, Mr. Biden would hold a backyard gathering of 100 supporters and then take a nap.

Nowadays, Mr. Biden’s numbers are in the dumper — just 37% of Americans approve of his job performance, and 70% don’t want him to run again, including more than half of Democrats.

How bad are they? George Stephanopoulos, who used to be President Bill Clinton’s press secretary, said the latest poll “is just brutal for President Biden.”

The poll by ABC News and The Washington Post released Sunday found that 63% of Americans do not think Mr. Biden, 80, has the “mental sharpness” to be president. That’s up 9 points since the same question was asked a year ago.

Just 32% believe Mr. Biden is mentally capable, while 5% have no opinion.

The numbers were similar regarding Mr. Biden’s health. Some 62% of Americans don’t think Mr. Biden is in “good enough physical health” to serve as president, while just 33% believe he is.

While it’s true that no incumbent president of either party has ever debated with those seeking to oust them, why not explore possible replacements for democracy?

Already, there are two challengers for the 2024 Democratic nomination, self-help author Marianne Williamson and John F. Kennedy’s nephew Robert F. Kennedy Jr. But Mr. Biden will not debate them, and the Democratic National Committee has announced it has no plans to sponsor primary debates.

Podcaster Joe Rogan said this month that the country is “not being run well” and Americans deserve a choice.

“So you have to go, well, who could do it better? Could it be a Republican? Or it could be a better Democrat?” he said. “And if it’s not a better Democrat, like how are we going to get a better Democrat if you don’t let the president debate? So they won’t let him debate. … So it’s like, that’s not that democratic, like, that’s not how it’s supposed to do.”

When Mr. Kennedy announced his candidacy last month, USA Today reported its joint poll with Suffolk University showed he immediately had the “support of 14% of voters who backed President Joe Biden in 2020.” Ms. Williamson had 5%, and another 13% were undecided.

USA Today noted that “that is surprising strength for a candidate who has a famous political name but is now known mostly as the champion of a debunked conspiracy theory blaming childhood vaccines for autism.”

But the Republicans are a mess, too. The Republican National Committee wants to move away from the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has controlled all aspects of the debates since 1987. Top members of the GOP said the debates are often slanted toward Democrats.

In a post on his Truth Social media platform this month, Mr. Trump suggested he was weighing plans to bail on the debates. “When you’re leading by seemingly insurmountable numbers, and you have hostile Networks with angry, TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors asking the ‘questions,’ why subject yourself to being libeled and abused,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Still, it’s all about voters. Republicans will hold debates one way or another to offer their party supporters a choice. Doesn’t America deserve a choice, too, on who the Democratic nominee will be?

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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