‘Happy to debate him’: Biden tells Howard Stern he’s willing to face Trump in 2024

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In a jaw-dropping reversal, President Joe Biden bluntly declared he would be “happy to debate” his potential 2024 rival Donald Trump after months of dodging the question. The surprising admission came during a free-wheeling sit-down with the infamously raunchy radio host Howard Stern on Friday.

When Stern pointedly asked Biden about Trump’s frequent taunts calling for them to face off, the president responded with uncharacteristic directness: “I am, somewhere, I don’t know when, but I am happy to debate him.”

The turnaround represents a stark shift in stance for Biden and his team, who have danced around the debate issue for months. As recently as February, Biden offered only a coy non-answer when pressed, quipping, “If I were him, I’d want him to debate me, too. He’s got nothing else to do.”

But within hours of Biden’s Stern interview bombshell, Trump’s campaign was already eagerly taking the bait. Senior adviser Chris LaCivita quickly posted to X (formerly Twitter): “Ok let’s set it up!”

Never one to be outdone, the former president himself soon weighed in – calling for an absurdly rushed debate as soon as Friday night at the Lower Manhattan federal courthouse where he is currently on trial for alleged hush money payments.

“Crooked Joe Biden just announced that he’s willing to debate! Everyone knows he doesn’t really mean it, but in case he does, I say, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANYPLACE,” Trump ranted on Truth Social. “How about tonight at 8:00pm at the Federal Courthouse????”

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Trump then fired off a series of other wildly premature proposals, suggesting they tee it up for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings at an upcoming rally of his in Michigan next week.

The spirited back-and-forth marked a head-spinning reversal in posture for Biden, who has shied away from engaging Trump’s repeated taunts and debate demands throughout the 2024 cycle so far. While the former president has steadfastly refused to participate in any of the GOP primary debates, he has been unrelentingly vocal in calling for the chance to spar with Biden one-on-one.

Those calls have only intensified as polls have shown a tightening race between the two likely nominees, with Trump making up ground in several key swing states. A dozen major news outlets also issued a joint plea earlier this month urging the rivals to commit to at least one debate showdown.

During the candid 75-minute interview, Biden waxed nostalgic about his family’s personal struggles over the years. His voice cracked with emotion recounting the 1972 car crash that killed his first wife and infant daughter, and the loss of his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015.

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But Biden also railed against the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, made up of three Trump appointees, which he labeled “maybe the most conservative court in modern history.”

When Stern pressed Biden on whether the Court’s controversial overturning of Roe v. Wade “drives you crazy,” the president claimed some Republican senators have privately confided they agree with his criticisms of Trump over the January 6th Capitol riots, but remain afraid to speak out.

“Over the last few years, I’ve had seven senior Republican senators…call me to tell me, ‘Joe I agree with you, but I just can’t do it. He’ll go — he’ll get me,'” Biden claimed.

As for why other prominent Republicans like George W. Bush have stayed relatively mum on Trump, Biden cryptically suggested the jury was still out: “I don’t think the election is over yet on that score.”

The prospect of an actual Biden-Trump debate would amount to a rematch from 2020, when they met for two divisive clashes dominated by the former president’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This cycle, the debates would likely see Biden attempting to portray Trump as too radical for the nation, with the ex-president framing Biden as a vessel for far-left overreach. The sputtering economy, culture wars, and lingering grievances over the 2020 election would also surely take center stage.

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No dates or locations have been set for any potential showdowns. Typically, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates organizes three debates between nominees after each party’s nominating convention in the summer leading up to the November election.

However, both camps have expressed openness to additional or earlier debates outside that traditional schedule – setting up the possibility of multiple high-stakes faceoffs in the months ahead between the two political heavyweights who have dominated America’s raucous political landscape for years.

With the startling about-face on Friday from Biden, allies and critics alike were left wondering – did he truly intend to debate Trump in 2024 after all? Or would this invite simply devolve into another round of political trolling and brinksmanship with his perpetually pugnacious rival?

Only time would tell. But one thing was certain – the prospect alone of the two seasoned brawlers sharing a stage was sure to command the nation’s full, undivided attention unlike anything else in the frenzied 2024 campaign cycle so far.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a seasoned basketball journalist with a passion for the WNBA and NBA. His insightful writing combines commentary and stats, providing comprehensive coverage. Alee sheds light on the overlooked WNBA while championing its players. He also delivers in-depth NBA analysis, offering unique perspectives on trades, drafts, and league dynamics. With exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes access, Alee gives readers an unparalleled look into the lives of basketball's biggest stars.

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