Any sliver of hope to avoid a Republican wipeout slipped away from President Donald Trump on Thursday morning thanks to his refusal to attend the next presidential debate in a virtual format (necessitated by his covid-19 diagnosis), his hysterical demand that Hillary Clinton be indicted and his decision to throw insults at Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris (he called her a “monster,” “totally unlikable” and a “communist”). Trump’s latest crazy-talk should suffice to convince all but his sycophantic enablers that he is entirely unable to perform the duties of his office. The difference between the two campaigns — one calm and winning, the other unhinged and losing — is evident. The Post reports:
“‘I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about,’ [Trump] said in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on the Fox Business Network.
“Shortly afterward, Biden spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said Biden welcomes the chance to participate in a virtual debate.
“‘Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump’s failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression,’ she said in a statement.
“Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien blasted the commission’s decision in a statement, saying Trump would ‘do a rally instead’ of accepting what he characterized as a ‘pathetic’ decision.”
If Trump does not show, it is unclear whether the debate commission would afford Biden the stage to answer audience questions. If not, certainly one of the news networks would be happy to host another Biden town hall, a format that he recently demonstrated works well for him.
The reckless disregard for others’ well-being and the gross insults at the only African American woman ever to be on a major presidential ticket will only heighten Trump’s problem with women. It is noteworthy that the most memorable line of the VP debate may have been “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.” There is not a woman in America who has not been talked over, interrupted or put down by a male peer. The all-male Republican ticket remains oblivious.
In 26 days, voting will end. (Remember millions of votes are being cast as Trump slogs through the worst days of his presidency.) While Biden’s victory seems extremely likely, many questions remain:
Will Trump’s horrid poll numbers and especially appalling conduct in recent days depress the Republican vote, serving as a self-fulfilling prophesy of a blowout?
Will Biden score wins deep into Republican territory where polls show him highly competitive (e.g., South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Texas)? If so, will this serve as a major realignment of the parties and the collapse of the Republican Party as we know it?
How many Senate seats will Republicans lose? One can imagine that Democrats will lose Alabama but enjoy a double-digit pickup. The list of states in play for Democrats is long: Maine, Colorado, North Carolina and Arizona look like easy wins. Iowa, South Carolina, Montana, Alaska, two Georgia Senate seats and even Texas are competitive.
How many Republicans will openly and dramatically break with Trump, going so far as to condemn his reckless behavior and racist rhetoric?
Can Biden rack up enough clear wins early on election night to dissuade Republican efforts to disrupt or discredit the results?
Barring an unforeseen calamity, we are witnessing the end of our national nightmare. The end cannot come soon enough — especially for those Trump still might infect and endanger.
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.