By Timothy Bella
President Donald Trump on Sunday demanded that Joe Biden be subjected to a drug test for the first presidential debate this week, once more suggesting without evidence his Democratic opponent takes performance-enhancing drugs.
After Biden laughed off the request at a news conference, his campaign slammed Trump’s demand, suggesting it shows the president’s best case for the upcoming debates is “made in urine”.
“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,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said in a Sunday statement to Politico. “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.”
For weeks, Trump has made baseless suggestions about the former vice president’s debate performances during the Democratic primary. Trump, who has sought to make the 77-year-old Biden’s physical and mental fitness a campaign issue, also claimed he would also agree to be drug-tested as part of Tuesday’s debate in Cleveland.
“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, 74, tweeted on Sunday. “His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???”
At a news conference Sunday, Trump doubled down on his unfounded claims, adding, without examples, that “people say he was on performance-enhancing drugs”.
Trump’s comments come as the president continues to downplay expectations for his own debate performance this week. “They give [Biden] a big fat shot in the ass, and he comes out, and for two hours, he’s better than ever before,” he said at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, N.C., earlier this month.
Last month, Trump, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, said he had grown suspicious of Biden’s improvements in his debates with Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont).
His demands echo a similar request he made four years ago to Hillary Clinton, who Trump also suggested, without evidence, was aided by performance-enhancing drugs during one of their 2016 debates. As with Biden, Trump had made Clinton’s health a point of emphasis, repeatedly saying the former secretary of state lacked the “stamina” to be president.
“We should take a drug test prior because I don’t know what’s going on with her,” Trump told supporters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in October 2016. “But at the beginning of her last debate – she was all pumped up at the beginning, and at the end it was like, ‘Oh, take me down’. She could barely reach her car.”
Elected officials and political candidates, including the president and those running for the office, are not subject to drug testing. But at the state level, some have tried the idea.
In Chandler v. Murray, the US Supreme Court in 1997 struck down a drug-testing law in Georgia, ruling that a policy requiring candidates to take urine tests to appear on a ballot was unconstitutional. Writing for the majority in the 8-1 decision, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted the Fourth Amendment, banning unreasonable search and seizure, shielded against the state’s 1990 drug-testing programme. ”The candidate drug test Georgia has devised diminishes personal privacy for a symbol’s sake,” Justice Ginsburg wrote.
Still, some politicians continue to float the idea. Last September, Guam Sen. James Moylan, R, proposed a bill mandating drug testing for those seeking office, according to the Pacific Daily News. In Texas, the state Senate passed a bill in 2015 requiring any political candidate to take a drug test when they file to run. Under the bill, which did not become law, no one would have faced consequences from a positive tests, but the results would have been posted by the Texas Ethics Commission, the Texas Tribune reported.
A similar initiative was brought forth by Minnesota lawmakers two years earlier, which had the outright support of state Rep. Duane Quam, R, according to the Star Tribune, though it also went nowhere in the legislature.
“Bring on the cup!” Quam exclaimed.