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The presidential debates must go on

If Joe Biden backs out of participating in the upcoming presidential debates, then he’s unfit to occupy the Oval Office. It’s that simple.

The American people expect — and deserve — to hear from presidential candidates and learn where they stand on a multitude of important policy issues affecting our lives. We need to listen to their vision for America vis-a-vis their opponent so voters can choose their candidate wisely come Election Day.

This is precisely why the Commission on Presidential Debates was established in 1987 to ensure that debates between candidates running for president and vice president of the United States are a permanent part of the electoral process.

Yet, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is afraid that President Donald Trump will crush Biden in the upcoming debates given the former vice president’s well-documented verbal stumbles and gaffes that have plagued his campaign since the outset. Hence, she’s now encouraging her party’s nominee to scrap the prescheduled debates altogether.

“I don’t think that there should be any debates,” Pelosi said at a news conference at the Capitol on Thursday. “I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States.”

If this isn’t a slap in the face to the electorate and a radical break with one of our most time-honored traditions in American democracy, what is?

In response to Pelosi’s controversial remarks, Biden’s camp said, on Thursday, he will stay the course and join the debates beginning Sept. 29 as planned. “As long as the (debate) commission continues down the straight and narrow as they have, I’m going to debate him,” Biden said. “I’m going to be a fact-checker on the floor as I’m debating him,” he added.

As he should, for if Biden chooses not to debate the president — contrary to what his predecessors have done in every presidential election cycle for decades — voters will interpret that as a sign of weakness. He’ll be viewed as a coward, not the commander in chief of the greatest military in the world.

The reality is that if Joe Biden is too feeble-minded to stand up to Donald Trump, a fellow American on U.S. soil, how would he be able to handle brutal dictators such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, China’s Communist Party leader Xi Jinping or Russia’s Vladimir Putin if elected president?

Not exactly the profile in courage expected from America’s commander in chief.

It’s pitiful enough that Biden spends most of his time cowering in his basement instead of doing traditional retail politics and campaigning around the country. He could have met voters face to face — socially distanced, of course. If he ends up following Pelosi’s orders and scrapping the debates, it’ll boost Trump’s reelection chances come November.

Cowards don’t belong in the White House. Leaders who can handle a healthy exchange of ideas and defend their policies do.

Adriana Cohen is a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16.

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