Biden borrows page from Trump playbook, will skip New Hampshire primary debate against Democratic challengers

 January 3, 2024

President Joe Biden has often gone to great lengths to try to differentiate himself from his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, but there is at least one area where the duo appear to be in complete agreement.

Biden, like Trump, is apparently refusing to participate in any debates against the other candidates challenging him in the 2024 primary cycle, and will not be on hand for a scheduled debate in New Hampshire on Jan. 8, the New Boston Post reported.

Trump appears to have established a new precedent, now emulated by Biden, in which front-running candidates with substantial leads over their opponents feel safe in skipping their respective party's primary debates.

Biden not participating in Democratic New Hampshire debate

The Guardian reported last week that a Democratic primary debate had been arranged for Jan. 8 at the New England College in New Hampshire, which will be moderated by former WMUR radio host and political commentator Josh McElveen.

The format of the debate will allow for 90-second opening and closing remarks, 60 seconds for answering the moderator's questions, and an additional 30 seconds of rebuttal time if one candidate is directly mentioned by the other.

Only Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and self-help author Marianne Williamson will be participating in the event, as President Biden is skipping the New Hampshire primary altogether and will not appear on the ballot either, though there is reportedly a write-in campaign that aims to help the incumbent president win that election in absentia.

That decision by the Biden campaign to essentially punish New Hampshire came after the Granite State refused to comply with the Democratic National Committee's overtly race-based altered primary schedule that stripped the predominately white state of its traditional and statutorily-required "first-in-the-nation" primary slot in favor of South Carolina and its substantial portion of minority voters.

Biden non-committal on debating Trump in general election

While it is now apparent that President Biden will skip any Democratic primary debates, the Associated Press reported in December that the Biden campaign has also refused to commit to participating in any general election debates either, particularly if former President Trump ends up being the Republican nominee.

Yet, the outlet noted that even as Trump has similarly refused to participate in any of the GOP primary debates thus far, he was clearly looking forward to the likely opportunity to debate Biden once again in a 2024 rematch of the 2020 election, and told Fox News host Bret Baier in a June interview of Biden, "We have to debate. He and I have to definitely debate. That’s what I love. The two of us have to debate."

The AP had reported separately in August that Trump had made his non-participation in the GOP debates unmistakably clear with a social media post that declared, "The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!"

He had already indicated as much in that June interview with Fox News' Baier, during which he asked rhetorically, "Why would I allow people at 1 or 2% and 0% to be hitting me with questions all night?"

ABC News reported that Trump also told Baier, "I like to debate. I probably am here because of debates. I don't mind it at all," yet then added, "But when you're 40 points up .... Why would I let these people take shots at me?"

Trump skipping GOP Iowa debate next week

Axios reported Tuesday that former President Trump intends to keep that GOP debate non-participation streak going next week when the other top Republican candidates will take part in a CNN-hosted Iowa debate on Jan. 10.

Meanwhile, Trump will once again engage in direct counterprogramming with a Fox News-hosted town hall-style event with Baier and Martha MacCallum at the same time in Iowa, as he has done with for the previous GOP debates with various interviews or campaign rally events.

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