Trump Says He Will Skip GOP Presidential Main Debates

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters on the Iowa State Truthful, Aug. 12, 2023, in Des Moines. (AP Photograph/Charlie Neibergall, File)

By Jill Colvin

Former President Donald Trump confirmed Sunday that he will probably be skipping Wednesday’s first Republican presidential main debate — and others as nicely.

“The general public is aware of who I’m & what a profitable Presidency I had,” Trump wrote on his social media website. “I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!” His spokesman didn’t instantly make clear whether or not he plans to boycott each main debate or simply those who have presently been scheduled.

The previous president and early GOP frontrunner had mentioned for months that he noticed little upside in becoming a member of his GOP rivals on stage after they collect for the primary time in Milwaukee Wednesday, given his commanding lead within the race. And he had made clear to these he had spoken to in current days that his opinion had not modified.

“Why would I enable individuals at 1 or 2% and 0% to be hitting me with questions all evening?” he mentioned in an interview in June with Fox Information host Bret Baier, who will probably be serving as a moderator. Trump has additionally repeatedly criticized Fox, the host of the Aug. 23 primetime occasion, insisting it’s a “hostile community” that he believes won’t deal with him pretty.

Trump had been discussing quite a lot of debate counterprogramming choices, together with sitting for an interview with ex-Fox Information host Tucker Carlson, who has been internet hosting a present on the web site previously often called Twitter. Carlson was noticed at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf membership forward of the announcement, based on an individual acquainted with the go to who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to debate it. The New York Instances reported Saturday the interview set to air Wednesday has already been taped.

“We can’t affirm or deny — keep tuned,” mentioned Trump spokesman Steven Cheung.

The thought had been one in every of a number of alternate options Trump had floated in conversations in current weeks. They included presumably displaying up in Milwaukee on the final minute or attending however sitting within the viewers and providing reside commentary on his Fact Social website. He had additionally mentioned doubtlessly calling into completely different networks to attract viewers from the talk, or holding a rally as an alternative.

The choice marks one other chapter in Trump’s ongoing feud with Fox, which was as soon as a staunch defender, however is now perceived to be extra favorable to his main rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Fox executives and hosts had lobbied Trump to attend, each privately and on the community’s airwaves. However Trump, based on an individual near him, was unswayed, believing executives wouldn’t have been wooing him in the event that they weren’t involved about their rankings.

An individual acquainted had mentioned earlier Sunday that Trump and his crew had not notified the Republican Nationwide Committee of his plans.

In the meantime, Trump’s rivals had been goading him to seem and getting ready within the hopes that he may, involved {that a} no-show may make them appear as if second-tier candidates and deny them the chance to land a knockout blow in opposition to the race’s Goliath that might change the trajectory of the race.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of many few candidates prepared to straight tackle Trump, has been accusing the previous president of missing “the center to indicate up” and calling him “a coward” if he does not.

A brilliant PAC supporting DeSantis launched an advert wherein the narrator says: “We are able to’t afford a nominee who is simply too weak to debate.” And in a posting Sunday on X, the social media website previously often called Twitter, DeSantis marketing campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo mentioned the Florida governor regarded ahead to sharing his imaginative and prescient Wednesday on what he’ll do as president as a result of “nobody is entitled to this nomination, together with Donald Trump. It’s a must to present up and earn it.”

Trump has pushed again on the assaults, telling Newsmax’s Eric Bolling that he noticed little profit in taking part when he’s already main by a large margin.

“It is not a query of guts. It’s a query of intelligence,” he mentioned.

Trump has additionally mentioned that he won’t signal a pledge to help the eventual Republican nominee if he loses the nomination — a requirement set by the Republican Nationwide Committee for showing on stage.

“Why would I signal it?” he mentioned. “I can identify three or 4 those that I wouldn’t help for president. So proper there, there’s an issue.”

Nonetheless, his advisers insisted for weeks that he had but to make a closing determination, at the same time as they acknowledged it was “fairly clear” from his private and non-private statements that he was unlikely to seem.

It is not the primary time Trump has chosen to skip a serious GOP debate.

Throughout his 2016 marketing campaign, Trump determined to forgo the ultimate GOP main face-off earlier than the Iowa caucuses and as an alternative held his personal marketing campaign occasion — a flashy telethon-style gathering in Iowa that was billed as a fundraiser for veterans.

Whereas the occasion earned him headlines and drew consideration away from his rivals, Trump went on to lose the Iowa caucuses to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — a loss some former aides have blamed, a minimum of partly, on his determination to skip the talk.

In 2020, Trump pulled out of the second common election debate in opposition to now-President Joe Biden after the Fee on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan group that has hosted common election debates for greater than three many years, sought to make it digital after Trump examined optimistic for COVID-19. Trump refused, saying he would solely debate on stage.

Trump will not be the one candidate who will probably be lacking Wednesday’s occasion. A number of lesser-known rivals seem unlikely to achieve the edge set by the RNC to take part. To qualify, candidates should have obtained contributions from a minimum of 40,000 particular person donors, with a minimum of 200 distinctive donors in 20 or extra states. In addition they should ballot at a minimum of 1% in three designated nationwide polls, or a mixture of nationwide and early-state polls, between July 1 and Aug. 21.

Candidates who’ve met the {qualifications} embody DeSantis, Christie, former vice chairman Mike Pence, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

Past the fundraising and polling necessities, the RNC has mentioned candidates should additionally signal the pledge agreeing to help the eventual celebration nominee in addition to agreeing to not take part in any non-RNC sanctioned debate for the rest of the election cycle. The RNC is boycotting occasions organized by the Fee for Presidential Debates, alleging bias.

“I affirm that if I don’t win the 2024 Republican nomination of President of the US, I’ll honor the need of the first voters and help the nominee with the intention to save our nation and beat Joe Biden,” reads the pledge, based on a replica posted by DeSantis to the social media website X. Candidates additionally should pledge to not run as an impartial, write-in candidate or third-party nominee.

Whereas a number of candidates, together with Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have taken concern with the requirement, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd to this point is the one one who has mentioned definitively that he won’t signal the pledge as a result of he refuses to help Trump if he turns into the eventual nominee. Christie has mentioned he’ll signal no matter is required to get him on the stage.

Along with voicing opposition to the loyalty pledge, Trump has instructed he’s against boycotting common election debates hosted by the Fee on Presidential Debates. “You’ve gotten, actually, an obligation to do this,” he mentioned in a radio interview this spring.