As expected, former US President Donald Trump has made it official. He has declared his intention to abstain from the upcoming Republican primary debates. The first debate in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination is scheduled for Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Trump has opted out of numerous Republican gatherings in initial voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, events of significance for courting party activists and ensuring equitable exposure among candidates.
Governors DeSantis and Doug Burgum, former vice president Mike Pence, Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott will be taking part in the debate being hosted on the Fox network.
‘The public knows who I am.
Trump took to his social media app, Truth Social, to detail his reasons for not attending the debate. “The public knows who I am and what a successful Presidency I had,” Trump said on Truth Social. “I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!” Trump wrote his message in capital letters.
He reasoned that it wouldn’t be logical to offer his Republican contenders an opportunity to launch attacks against him, given his significant advantage in national polls.
A recent CBS poll indicated that he commanded the preference of 62% of Republican voters, while his nearest rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, garnered only 16%. All other contenders in the primary race received less than 10% support.
Trump, pointing to a CBS News survey, said it “has me leading the field by ‘legendary’ numbers.” He went on to deride his opponents, notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, for trailing in the polls and touted his presidential achievements, before adding in all-caps that he “will therefore not be doing the debates!”
What would Trump do during debate time?
It’s not yet clear what the former US president will be doing when his opponents will be taking part in debate in Wisconsin. According to a Bloomberg report, the former president is expected to feature in an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that may overlap with the event, though a spokesperson said that plans hadn’t been finalized yet.
Interestingly, a Trump interview with Carlson would be a snub to the Fox network, which is hosting Wednesday’s debate. Carlson left the Fox News last year.
Amidst these political developments, Trump faces a deadline of Friday to voluntarily surrender in Fulton County, Georgia, following his indictment last week on a fourth criminal charge. This indictment pertains to an alleged scheme aimed at overturning his 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden.
Focus on DeSantis
Trump’s absence from the forthcoming debate could potentially redirect attention towards DeSantis, making him susceptible to attacks from other candidates aiming to position themselves as the main alternative to the former president. The victor in the Republican nomination process will eventually face Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2024 election.
A spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign, Andrew Romeo, expressed that the Florida governor looked forward to presenting his presidential vision in Milwaukee. Romeo remarked on X (formerly Twitter), “No one is entitled to this nomination, including Donald Trump. You have to show up and earn it.”