Democrats are floating another trial balloon to test which way the winds are blowing: would voters let Biden get away with not debating Trump?

She explained she did not think "the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody should, and has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts," and as a result, any debate with him would just be an "exercise in skullduggery" by Trump.

"I wouldn't legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States," she said, though she acknowledged that the Biden campaign had a different view on the debates. Pelosi called Trumps's conduct during his 2016 debates with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton "disgraceful."

So far Biden is staying committed to debating the President.

Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said Biden would continue to take part in the debates. The campaign would "certainly agree with Speaker Pelosi on her view of the President's behavior. But just as she has powerfully confronted that behavior in the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, Joe Biden looks forward to doing the same on the debate stage."

Asked later Thursday on MSNBC about Pelosi's comments, Biden said "as long as the (Commission on Presidential Debates) continues down the straight and narrow as they have, I'm going to debate him."

"I'm gonna be a fact-checker on the floor when I'm debating him," he said.

Biden has to appear 100% committed until and unless he decides he can get away without debating, in which case he'd have to flip immediately and give a good explanation for his decision. Any wavering on a decision like this would be devastating.

Personally, I don't think a candidate could win without debating in this day and age. It's certainly fair to wonder whether or not debate performance is a useful indicator for governing ability, but that's beside the point. Presidential debates are more like trial-by-combat, and there's something very primal about the ritual. Something deep inside us knows that you don't get to lead the tribe if you won't even fight for it.

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