September 30, 2020
While the first presidential debate has been widely deemed a disaster and raised questions about the remaining scheduled political bouts, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said that former Vice President Joe Biden should still gear up for the long haul.
However, Menendez called on the Commission on Presidential Debates to make some serious changes before the next scheduled rounds. Wednesday afternoon, the Commission announced it will rethink conditions of debates moving forward.
"I think there should be debates but there has to be a different system in which the moderator has to have some control because otherwise the American people get nothing and the nation is further humiliated," he told Cheddar.
"I thought the debate was a national disgrace," Menendez added, placing most of the blame on Trump's incessant interruptions during Biden's responses.
The Democratic senator has long been critical of the president but more so recently, taking him to task on the Senate floor over his reported tax payments of $750 in 2016 and 2017. Menendez said it is absolutely an issue that the American people are concerned about.
"I think no one is happy to pay taxes but they are certainly extremely unhappy when the president of the country pays nothing and they pay more than their fair share," he said.
Menendez also raised questions about the vast amount of debt the president reportedly holds and whether the lenders are foreign entities. "The American people deserve to know that. Several national security experts say that raises a serious national security question."
Like many of his fellow Democrats, Menedez also opposes Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, calling it a direct threat to the election and an unfair process to the American people.
"Millions of people are voting already. They should have a say in who nominates the next Supreme Court justice by virtue of being elected as president," he explained.
As more people use mail-in ballots in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump continues to undermine the legitimacy of the process, potentially setting up a Supreme Court battle that could decide the outcome of the election, but Menedez said that in America, "the people decide the election, not some justice on the Supreme Court."
"If this, in fact, nomination does come up for a vote, which it should not before the election, then I certainly would not be voting for her," Menedez said.
He also pointed to Barrett's position critical of the Supreme Court decision that upheld the Affordable Care Act and her potential ability to dismantle the national health care law as reasons to consider voting against her appointment to the bench.
While there wasn't much to celebrate following last night's debate, Menendez said currently he is enjoying Hispanic Heritage Month.
"Hispanic Heritage Month is important because it is a celebration of the contributions of a community that has had a history in our country since before the founding of the nation," he noted. "The largest minority, fastest-growing in the nation, a trillion-dollar domestic marketplace that comes from the community; and so, these are all the elements that we celebrate at this time every year."
Born to Cuban immigrant parents, who fled to New York City and later relocated to Union City, N.J. in the 1950s, Menendez said the values instilled in him as a young man by his parents carved the path he's currently on, ultimately leading him to become just the sixth Latino person to be elected to the U.S. Senate.