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Dear Male Democratic Candidates, No One Cares How Many Pushups You Can Do. Please Stop Being Weird About This.

Last week, Joe Biden made sure everyone knows what a big strong man he is by announcing that if he earned the Democratic nomination and if, during the presidential debates Trump went after his age or his “mental state” as he is wont to do, Biden would respond by challenging him to some feats of strength. “I’d say, ‘C’mon Donald, c’mon man,'” he said, when asked how he’d take on Trump’s bullying. “‘How many push-ups do you want to do here, pal?'”

He said that he meant this “jokingly,” but did he? Because it was also specifically said as a contrast to how he responded to Kamala Harris’ confrontation at the first debate. (He called that an “attack”; we disagree.) If he can’t handle Kamala Harris challenging his voting history on real issues, how will he handle Trump?

And to be fair, Trump is not someone you can challenge on the issues. He’s not a normal candidate, as we learned the hard way in 2016. But also, as Biden himself notes (but doesn’t quite seem to believe), you can’t “get down in the dirt” with Trump, cause that’s meeting him on his level, where he has the advantage.

So how do you battle Trump? TBD, I guess. The most Biden said was that he wouldn’t take any “guff.” Cool policy, bro.

But Biden isn’t the only candidate to announce his desire to challenge Trump to fisticuffs. Cory Booker told Seth Meyers that sometimes his “testosterone makes [him] feel like punching” Trump.

He says he doesn’t because 1) That’s a felony, and 2) Again, “that’s [Trump’s] tactics.” (Also, when he told the same anecdote back in April, he added that “black guys like us we don’t get away with that.”)

Booker’s comments do feel more like a joke than Biden’s because they’re not framed in contrast to a Democratic opponent’s legitimate policy challenges. Instead, they are one quick joke within a conversation about “civic grace.” I genuinely believe Cory Booker would not punch Trump. I do not fully believe Biden wouldn’t get riled up by feeling the need to prove his physical superiority to Trump.

Even if Booker’s comments are just a joke, it is one of those things that makes you immediately jump to “Can you imagine if a female candidate said this?” Can you imagine if Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris said they wanted to slap Donald Trump? Can you imagine how quickly they’d be dubbed “emotional”?

Sure, Biden might not be totally serious. Booker might not be serious. Maybe this video from Beto O’Rourke is just a coincidence and not a direct response to the Biden interview that happened just a few days earlier.

I still 100% do not care. All of these men should have better things to do than trying to peacock and arm-wrestle their way into the White House. It’s just embarrassing, especially since Kirsten Gillibrand could obviously take all of them if this were a legitimate part of the debate process which, again, it’s not.

(image: screengrab)
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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.