Donald Trump doesn’t believe that participating at the GOP primary debate would do him any good.
So, although he hasn’t officially said he won’t be attending the first one that takes place in August, it sure doesn’t sound like he plans to be there.
Over the weekend, Trump – the far-away leader in polls among Republican presidential candidates – appeared on the “Sunday Morning Futures” program on Fox News. He explained that his huge lead in polls is one of the main reasons why he’s considering not attending the debates at all.
“Ronald Reagan didn’t do it, and a lot of other people didn’t do it. When you have a big lead, you don’t do it.
“We have a lead of 50 and 60 points in some cases. … You’re leading people by 50 and 60 points, you say why would you be doing a debate? It’s actually not fair. Why would you let somebody that’s at zero or one or two or three be popping you with questions?”
That last point is the one that Trump has been honing on when he’s discussed his reluctance to participate in the GOP debates.
What, exactly, does he stand to get out of the debates with such a big lead in polls? It’s not like he needs to increase his lead among Republican primary voters. All he could really do, then, would be lose some support while giving other candidates the limelight.
So, instead of focusing on the GOP primary debates, Trump has already squarely focused his efforts on the general election in November 2024, which he believes he’ll face off with President Joe Biden to see who wins the presidency.
Some people have suggested that if Trump were to pass on the GOP debates, it would open up an opportunity for another candidate to make significant headway, particularly Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. But, Trump doesn’t believe that’s possible.
Maria Bartiromo, the host of the Fox News program, asked Trump whether he saw any risk in not showing up, pointing to a hypothetical situation where DeSantis “has a good night and it cuts into your lead.” Trump responded:
“Or somebody else has a good night and cuts into his lead, because that’s what’s happening. He’s going down and a couple of them are going up.”
Most of the other GOP candidates have said they will be attending the Republican debate in Milwaukee in August, with many criticizing Trump – and even challenging him – for saying he might not go.
DeSantis, for one, said it would be a “great opportunity” for him to get before voters.
During a recent interview on Fox News, DeSantis talked about the debate, saying:
“There’s a lot of Republican voters out there. They like what we’ve done in Florida. They know I’m a good governor … but they haven’t seen a lot about me up close and personal, so that gives us a great opportunity to be able to share our vision.
“What we’ve found on the campaign trail in these early states when we’re able to make that case to voters directly, we get a tremendous response.”