The pressure for a Democratic debate stunt is on
Twenty (!) Democratic presidential candidates will debate one another on July 30 and 31. Aside from the usual fireworks about who can promise to spend the most money, we cannot rule out the possibility of a genuinely outrageous stunt as well:
CNN will broadcast the next two Democratic debates Tuesday and Wednesday night. At 8 p.m. Eastern each night, the ten candidates will be introduced, followed by a performance of the national anthem.
One interesting wrinkle: The campaign of Jay Inslee specifically asked whether the National Anthem would be played. The Washington Republican party is wondering if Inslee plans on taking a knee during the National Anthem.
Would any candidate be bold, crazy, reckless, or desperate enough to do this? If you’re one of the second- or third-tier candidates, kneeling would be a way to get attention and generate headlines before the debate even begins — and a decent shot that your picture will be on the front page of every newspaper and news website in the country. The decision to kneel would be denounced by Republicans and probably President Trump himself — an attack that would elevate any candidate still being described as “Congressman Whatshisname” or “Governor Thatotherguy.”
The usual caveats apply: this is pure speculation, and there's no reason to believe Inslee, or any of the other candidates, plan to "take a knee" during the anthem.
But given the rising demands for candidates to separate themselves from the pack, we would not be shocked to see some sort of boneheaded stunt on stage. Desperation does strange things to people...and that goes double for politicians facing irrelevance.