Schapiro: Youngkin vs. McAuliffe — the debate over debates | Govt-and-politics

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It should come as no surprise that McAuliffe and Youngkin don’t need to be in the same room, on the same stage to trade jabs.

The Youngkin campaign poked first: “Only weak incumbents like McAuliffe need to debate five times in hopes of making up lost ground.”

To which the McAuliffe replied, “If Glenn can’t take the debate stage heat, he surely can’t handle the pressure of being governor.”

Welcome to the debate on debates.

It is a quadrennial rite, one quickly forgotten, unless it leads to a moment in the debates, themselves, that shapes or reshapes the campaign — particularly to the disadvantage of a candidate.

That’s foremost to McAuliffe, the veteran, and Youngkin, the neophyte.

To Tucker Martin, a communications adviser to three Republican gubernatorial candidates, two of whom were hurt by debates and one whom thrived because of them, said the bottom line on debates this year might be the bottom line — specifically, Youngkin’s.

“He obviously will…

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