By Ken Bredemeier
U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday he will demand that his Democratic challenger in the November 3 national election, former Vice President Joe Biden, take a drug test before or after their debate this Tuesday night, suggesting that Biden’s uneven performance in previous political debates this year was because he was drugged.
Trump’s unorthodox accusation, which he leveled previously in recent weeks, came as he continues to trail Biden in national polling, as he has for months. Trump is facing the possibility of becoming the third U.S. president in the last four decades to lose a bid for re-election to a second four-year term.
“I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night,’ Trump said on Twitter. “Naturally, I will agree to take one also. His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???”
Biden engaged in a string of debates with other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination starting last year and extending into 2020.
At times, he fared poorly in debates with 10 candidates lined up on a debate stage behind podiums. But he seemed to regain his footing in a strong performance in a one-on-one encounter in March against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Biden’s last opponent before Sanders dropped out of the race and conceded the Democratic presidential nomination to Biden.
Last month, Trump said, “I mean, you saw some of those debates with the large number of people on the stage. He was — I mean, I used to say, ‘How is it possible that he can even go forward?'”
“Frankly, his best performance was against Bernie. We’re going to call for a drug test, by the way, because his best performance was against Bernie.”
“It wasn’t that he was Winston Churchill because he wasn’t,” Trump concluded, “but it was a normal, boring debate. You know, nothing amazing happened. If you go back and watch some of those numerous debates, he was so bad. He wasn’t even coherent. And against Bernie, he was.”
The 74-year-old Trump has often questioned the mental acuity of the 77-year-old Biden.
But Biden has just as frequently laughed off Trump’s accusations, saying, he will match Trump and more in a debate.
“Watch me. Mr. President, watch me,” Biden told ABC News in an interview. “What we say, what we do, what we control, what we know, what kind of shape we’re in. Come on.” But Biden acknowledged there are “legitimate questions” to be asked about the mental state of the two candidates.
In a pre-recorded interview aired Sunday on CNN, Biden’s wife, Jill, said, “He’s ready. One of the things I’m excited for is when the American people see Joe Biden up there on that stage.”
“They’re going to see what a president looks like. You know, someone who is, like I’m saying, calm, steady, strong, resilient.”
Jill Biden said there is “night and day between the two candidates. So, I can’t wait for the American people to see Joe, to see that statesman up there in front of the American public.”
Trump’s renomination for a second term in the White House was all but a foregone conclusion and he has not debated a political opponent since 2016. He faced off against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton three times before he won the election.
He and Biden are debating three times in the next month, starting with Tuesday’s 90-minute session moderated by Fox News journalist Chris Wallace in the midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio.
Wallace has picked six topics for discussion in 15-minutes segments: “The Trump and Biden Records;” “The Supreme Court,” with Trump’s appointment of conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; “COVID-19;” “The Economy;” “The Integrity of the Election,” and “Race and Violence in Our Cities.”
The topics reflect the news of the day in the United States, although progressive critics say that Wallace’s description of race and violence in the U.S. mirrors Trump’s contention that protests against police abuse of minorities in recent months have been led by “thugs,” rioters and anarchists.
Democrats supporting Biden say instead the discussion ought to be about systemic racism in the U.S. and the country’s national reckoning over race relations brought to the fore by the May death of a Black man, George Floyd, while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the deaths of other Blacks at the hands of police.
Five weeks ahead of the election, Biden is maintaining a 7-percentage-point lead over Trump, according to a compilation of polls by the Real Clear Politics web site, although Biden’s lead is narrower in key battleground states that are likely to determine the overall outcome.
Biden has a 10-point advantage among likely voters, 54%-to-44%, in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday, while a New York Times-Sienna College poll shows Biden’s lead at 49%-41%.