Biden Allies Brush off Calls for Primary Debates

June 24, 2023 | Source: The Hill | by Hanna Trudo

President Biden’s long shot primary rivals increasingly want to debate him in 2024, but those demands are being ignored by the White House and haven’t picked up steam with progressives in Congress.

Biden’s two Democratic opponents, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson, have talked openly about the benefits of debating. Third-party candidate Cornel West also said he would “welcome” the chance to go head-to-head with the president, in a text message to The Hill.

But the calls have not won support from liberal members of the House and Senate, at least so far. And Democratic strategists say there’s not much reason to think Biden’s campaign would sign off on a debate — especially given arguments that agreeing to share a stage would only elevate his two marginal opponents.

“Biden should not debate them,” said Jim Kessler, a Democratic operative and executive vice president of policy at the centrist think tank Third Way. “They are both gadflies who have done nothing to earn the right to debate a sitting president in an otherwise uncontested primary.”