Liberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman suggested presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden require President Donald Trump agree to two conditions for meeting him in any debates. The first condition would be a "real-time fact-checking team."
In his Tuesday column, Friedman said Biden's second demand should be that Trump release his tax returns from 2016 to 2018, "Otherwise, he's giving Trump unfair advantages."
"Debates always have ground rules," Friedman wrote. "Why can't telling the truth and equal transparency on taxes be conditions for this one?"
The fact-checking team would be hired by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonprofit established by the Republican and Democratic parties, and would appear 10 minutes before the scheduled end of the debate to "report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered."
Friedman contends that Biden has the upper hand with Trump "badly trailing in the polls" and that the president needs the debates more than the former vice president.
"He should not go into such a high-stakes moment ceding any advantages to Trump," Friedman wrote.
He also said the debates would not be a "good way" for Biden to "reintroduce himself" to voters, a reference to Biden's campaign strategy over the past four months of appearing almost exclusively via the internet from the basement of his Delaware home.
Friedman said that a rejection of the conditions by Trump would be seen as a fear of transparency and fact-checking.
"That kind of debate, and only that kind of debate, would be worthy of voters' consideration and Biden's participation," Friedman wrote. "Otherwise, Joe, stay in your basement."
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