Well, let’s not get pissy about this. In fact, Joe Biden seemed to enjoy Donald Trump’s drug-test challenge a lot more than Trump figured he would. At a press avail yesterday, Biden chuckled and almost responded. Almost, which Team Trump seemed to think was meme-worthy for some reason:
Joe Biden was asked whether he will take a drug test before the debate.
"No, I have no comment," he said. pic.twitter.com/jHX5qfESR2
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) September 27, 2020
Why the Trump War Room passed this around on social media is unclear. Laughing this off with a “no comment” might be the smartest thing Biden’s done with a Trump attack so far this cycle, especially one this dumb. It’s better to let your campaign and surrogates go on the attack on mudslinging while the candidate remains above it, a strategy Trump has never liked or adopted.
Team Biden didn’t take long to follow up on it, using it to take a fairly easy shot at Trump on health care and COVID-19:
“I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night. Naturally, I will agree to take one also,” Trump wrote. “His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???”
Even Biden had to chuckle at Trump’s latest taunts, although the Democratic nominee opted against saying anything when a reporter asked him later Sunday about the president’s demand.
“He’s almost …,” Biden said before interrupting himself. “No. I have no comment.”
Later, the Biden campaign reconsidered.
“Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager. “We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19.”
Oof. Does Team Trump really think this is a good time for Trump to bring up drug testing, of all issues? That’s been the Achilles heel of the administration’s COVID-19 strategy all along, and it’s still a problem, especially for accurate rapid-response testing. All this does is give more weight to health-care issues in the election cycle, an issue that gives Democrats a big advantage. Apparently no one on the Trump campaign learned that lesson from the 2018 midterms.
This drug-testing thread wasn’t just a one-0ff tweet, either. Trump has been beating this drum for at least two weeks, maybe more, by claiming that Biden’s on performance-enhancing drugs, or at least uses them for televised debates. It’s not at all clear what drugs would enhance debate performances, but whatever they might be, they only seem to work for an hour or so; Biden routinely faded from view in the second half of those debates. Simple caffeine might be in order on stage, or perhaps vitamin shots as an overall health booster, but there’s no evidence at all that anything stronger was ever in play, especially during the debates. This looks like one of Trump’s wild claims that for some reason he and his campaign feel duty-bound to maintain without any rational benefit whatsoever.
Besides, the idea that “Biden’s on drugs” to enhance his performance cuts against a more legitimate criticism from Team Trump. If Biden really is on drugs to pep himself up, then why is the Biden campaign calling lids before 10 am most days for the past week, and before noon for half of September? Why not stick to the actual performance issue rather than make one up?
Per pooler @laurenegambino, the Biden campaign called a lid for in-person events at 9:51a.m.
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) September 28, 2020