The first of three scheduled presidential debates is now just weeks away, and the biggest question in politics remains will Joe Biden show up? Biden himself has said he will debate President Trump in person, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently said Biden shouldn't debate Trump, echoing similar comments in recent months from Democrats and Biden supporters. That's prompted the Trump campaign to send a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates requesting written confirmation that Biden will participate in the scheduled in-person debates.
Presidential debates have been a tradition for decades, so the current situation is somewhat unprecedented, according to Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Director for the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. "Biden has indicated he will participate, but Nancy Pelosi and some other Democrats have said no, don't debate the president," says Madonna. "I think the Trump campaign is raising the issue that Biden could still back out of these debates at the last minute, so they're using this as a PR move to make sure that Biden shows up."
Dr. Madonna tells KTRH that debates play an important role in the presidential campaign. "They help viewers make up their mind...about a third of voters say they find (debates) helpful," he says. "But the bigger story here is that there's a high expectation that if you're gonna challenge the President of the United States, you have to debate him."
As for the answer to that biggest question in politics (will Joe Biden show up?), Dr. Madonna answers yes...sort of. "I'm convinced the first debate will go on...but we'll see if all three go on," he says while laughing. "That's another matter."
The presidential debates are scheduled for September 29, October 15 and October 22.