By JOHN PARKINSON, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — As President Donald Trump prepares to deliver remarks accepting the GOP nomination Thursday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she believes Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should not participate in any debates against the president this fall.
“I myself — just don’t tell anybody who told you this, especially don’t tell Joe Biden: I don’t think that there should be any debates,” Pelosi, D-Calif., volunteered during a news conference with reporters at the Capitol Thursday morning. “I do not think that 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.”
Pelosi urged Biden not to “legitimize a conversation” with Trump and pointed at the president’s “disgraceful stalking” during the 2016 debates against Hillary Clinton.
“I think that he’ll probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency. He does that every day,” Pelosi fumed. “But I think it will also belittle what the debates are supposed to be about, and they’re not to be about skullduggery on the part of somebody who has no respect for the office he holds, much less the democratic process.”
The Biden campaign previously sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential debates agreeing to three debates with Trump and one vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence. The campaign pointed to the former vice president’s previous commitment, even as it signaled agreement with Pelosi’s assessment of Trump’s behavior.
“We certainly agree with Speaker Pelosi on her views 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,” said Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates.
As Trump is expected to defend his administration’s pandemic response during his speech on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday evening, Pelosi insisted that the only way Democrats will come to terms on a new package of COVID-19 relief is if Republicans produce a “flood of money.” Both sides are reportedly $2 trillion apart in their proposals.
“They’re just gonna have to come up with more money,” Pelosi reiterated. “They’re coming in with an eyedropper.”
More than 100 days after the House passed the Heroes Act, with negotiations remaining at an impasse for weeks, Pelosi is expected to break the ice in a phone call with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Thursday afternoon. But Pelosi downplayed the former congressman’s role in the negotiations and struggled to recall his name.
Pelosi contended “whatever his name is, what’s his name? Meadows” was participating in the discussion in a support role to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the administration’s principal official in the negotiations, though the secretary has not spoken to Pelosi since Aug. 13.
“If they are willing to meet us in the middle, then we can sit down and talk,” she said. “So this is, ‘you want to call me? I’m returning your call. Are you ready to bring much more money to the table?"”
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