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OPINION

Democrat Strategy: Vote Now, Debate Later

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Rebecca Droke

The Pennsylvania Democratic candidate for Senate, John Fetterman, has refused to agree to a debate against his Republican counterpart Dr. Mehmet Oz. It may be because of his obvious mental incapacity coming off of a debilitating stroke just days before winning his primary election. 

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Or, it could be because his campaign is embracing one of the oldest, wisest strategies in the book: Don't get in the way of your opponent when they're doing a fine job hurting their own cause. And Oz has not been the most effective candidate in Pennsylvania up to this point. 

Whatever the reason, it appears as though Fetterman can't run and hide from the public stage much longer. Even the Washington Post now realizes that the Fetterman cognition issue is a serious problem. 

Since returning to the campaign trail, Mr. Fetterman has been halting in his performances. He stammers, appears confused and keeps his remarks short. He has held no news conferences. Mr. Fetterman acknowledges his difficulties with auditory processing, which make it hard for him to respond quickly to what he’s hearing. He receives speech therapy — and we wish him a speedy, full recovery — but the lingering, unanswered questions about his health, underscored by his hesitation to debate, are unsettling.

Of course... they'll still endorse him. 

Ultimately, Fetterman will agree to a debate, but it will be in the final weeks of October after many early, mail-in ballots will have already been sent in. Better to get as many votes in as soon as possible before voters can see just how brain-damaged you really are, am I right? 

Fetterman isn't alone in this strategy. 

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In Arizona, Democrat Katie Hobbs refuses to debate GOP nominee Kari Lake. "Unfortunately, debating a conspiracy theorist like Kari Lake – whose entire campaign platform is to cause enormous chaos and make Arizona the subject of national ridicule – would only lead to constant interruptions, pointless distractions, and childish name-calling," Nicole DeMont, the campaign manager for Hobbs, said in a statement. 

In Washington State, Tiffany Smiley, the GOP nominee for the Senate, is giving Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray a real run for her money. Murray refuses to debate. "(S)he not only refuses to accept the debate with me, but she won't even participate in a joint interview. I had agreed it was supposed to be in-person. Then I agreed. I agreed to do it on Zoom, and she negotiated it to a separate interview. So I called them out," Smiley told Townhall's Guy Benson on Fox News Radio. 

In Michigan, Democratic incumbent Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced last Wednesday that her campaign accepted two invitations to debate on TV on Oct. 13 and Oct. 25. Republican challenger Tudor Dixon has a beef with the late dates considering early voting will have already commenced in the Wolverine state. Indeed, at Michigan's early voting website, the recommendation is that early mail-in ballots are returned by October 25, the actual date of Whitmer's proposed final debate. 

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The cynicism here is palpable. 

Democrats pumped millions of dollars into various pro-Trump Republican candidates during the primary season, thinking they'd have a better chance of painting them as extremists in the general election. Then they either refuse to debate their opponents outright or delay the debates so late in the campaign that they'll hope to have a good number of early Democratic ballots already cast before a bad debate performance can harm them. 

It's almost as if these Democratic politicians have nothing but contempt for the voters. 

Now, many will say that this is just smart politics and a good strategy to just play out the clock and eke out a narrow victory at the end of the (creative) counting, and they may be right. 

But one thing is obvious. Refusing to debate or only agreeing to debate when it's at the last minute and after many of the votes have already been cast is not the sign of a confident politician. It's the sign of a desperate loser. 

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