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Speaker Johnson on Trump-Biden debate: ‘CNN is going to rig it as much as possible’

  | Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Getting President Biden ready for any public appearance these days is time consuming. But it’s nothing compared to prepping him for a high-stakes debate with former President Donald Trump that could decide the November elections. Desperate to convince voters that the 81-year-old is mentally fit, aides and strategists are hunkering down for days of “debate camp” before the showdown with his predecessor. “This is the entire election, as far as I’m concerned,” former Obama advisor Van Jones warned. “… If Biden goes out there and messes up, it’s game over.”

As far as most Republicans are concerned, the president’s policies should already spell disaster for Biden’s reelection chances. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) who was just with Trump in Mar-a-Lago, said the 45th president is chomping at the bit to call out Biden’s last three years of White House failures. “I’ll tell you what,” the Louisianan told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, “he’s excited to get on that debate stage. And I think it’s going to be a serious mismatch,” Johnson predicted. “President Biden has not done well in his public appearances and speeches in recent months, and we’ve all seen that. And President Trump, clearly, he’s on his A game. I mean, he’s sharp as ever and as anyone is.”

Even in his hay day, no one is quite sure how Biden could possibly explain away the crises he’s created on the border, on the global stage, and in the economy, with his LGBT indoctrination wreaking havoc on schools, sports, workplaces, and business. And unfortunately for Biden, his challenger already has an impressive track record putting out the fires sparked by the Democrats’ extreme agendas.

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“He can’t wait to … talk about these issues,” Johnson said on Saturday’s “This Week on the Hill,” “how he’ll improve our world stage by projecting strength again. We have plans and answers for all the great challenges facing the country, and he’s looking forward to laying a lot of that out to the American public. I expect everybody will be watching. I also expect that CNN is going to rig it as much as possible and make it as favorable as they possibly can for President Biden, but I don’t think it’s going to work.”

One of the more interesting things about this match-up, Perkins pointed out, is how few undecided voters there are. “So we are going into what is [turning out to be] a base election … Nearly every national presidential poll has the candidates within the margin of error — meaning, it’s a dead heat.” That’s bad news for the Left, who thought their sustained lawfare against the former president would have a bigger impact on voters. And yet, the FRC president explained, “The outlandish trial and conviction of former president Trump in Manhattan did not have the impact the Left had hoped. It didn’t move his support.”

Overall, the speaker believes, “I think people see this as a battle between two worldviews [and] competing visions of what America is and will be — and also the records of these two candidates. That’s what’s different about this presidential cycle than any one in recent memory … You can see what the [two administrations] actually produced and you can see which one’s better for you and your family.”

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the polls say. It matters who shows up to vote. And part of the problem is that too many people look at the news or read the paper and decide their candidate doesn’t need them to show up. That’s not true, activists say. If every Christian in America voted, Scott Presler told Breitbart, “we would never lose another election.” And for 30% of those Evangelicals, he explains, “it’s not that they don’t even vote — 30% are not registered to vote.” People of faith, Presler declared, “are going to be a very important coalition” in this election.

It comes down to the intensity factor, Perkins said. “That intensity has increased as candidates draw clear contrasts.” In Atlanta, there’s no shortage of issues where Trump can paint himself as counterweight to the Left’s radical policies on the economy, foreign policy, and Big Government. “But he must, once again, draw the contrast on core issues of moral values, just like he did in 2016,” Perkins underscored. “I was at the last presidential debate in Las Vegas when Donald Trump took on Hillary Clinton over her position on abortion” in the last month of pregnancy and said:

“I think it’s terrible. If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that’s OK and Hillary can say that that’s OK. But it’s not OK with me, because based on what she’s saying, and based on where she’s going, and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.”

That was the exact moment Donald Trump “ignited pro-life voters,” Perkins recalled. “[And] not to just vote but to believe that a pro-life America was possible. He needs to do the same on Thursday night. Post-Roe, the Democrats’ position on abortion has only become more extreme. The Republicans cannot abandon their decades-long campaign for the sanctity of human life. If America is to be great again, it has to first be good, and it starts with the recognition that all life is valuable because it is created in the image of God regardless of what zip code it is conceived in or the state it is born into.”

While rumors continue to swirl that moderates are planning an attack on the pro-life planks of the Republican platform next month in Milwaukee, conservatives continue to argue that the best way to shore up Trump’s support is leaning into those issues — not away from them. GOP candidates, Johnson assured listeners, “are talking about these things not only with the right message, but in the right tone … These are policy choices [that] got the country in the mess that we’re in right now, and it’s policy choices that will get us out of it. And so when we can sit down and explain [our agenda] … we’ll have a big effect on election turnout and the outcome in November. We’re excited about that.”

Originally published at The Washington Stand. 

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer for The Washington Stand. In her role, she drafts commentary on topics such as life, consumer activism, media and entertainment, sexuality, education, religious freedom, and other issues that affect the institutions of marriage and family. Over the past 20 years at FRC, her op-eds have been featured in publications ranging from the Washington Times to The Christian Post. Suzanne is a graduate of Taylor University in Upland, Ind., with majors in both English Writing and Political Science.

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