Trump Will Skip All GOP Primary Debates Now

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

After previously indicating that he would not participate in the first GOP primary debate in Milwaukee, which is scheduled for Wednesday, former president Donald Trump has announced that he won’t participate in any of the 2024 GOP presidential primary debates.

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“The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!” Trump announced Sunday in a post on Truth Social. “Why would I allow people at 1% and 2% and 0% to be hitting me with questions all night?”

“People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate? I’M YOUR MAN. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he added in another post.

Trump recently urged his GOP primary rivals to withdraw from the race and support his candidacy, citing his commanding lead in the polls. He previously refused to sign a loyalty pledge requiring him to affirm that he will support the eventual GOP nominee. “Why would I sign it?” he asked. “I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there, there’s a problem.”

Trump clearly believes that there’s no advantage to participating in the debates, but that doesn’t mean this decision won’t backfire on him.

“For the voters at least actively considering someone else along with Trump, their rationale most often is that they’re just keeping their options open. About half of them also say they are ‘waiting to see the debate.’ That might be the most hopeful news for those candidates going into the week,” CBS News reports. “A sizable four in 10 of these voters do cite Trump being ‘controversial’ as another reason for considering others, perhaps reflecting uncertainty about what his future holds, and that it’s a talking point for other candidates. Comparably few currently say it’s because they think Trump could lose to Mr. Biden.”

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This means that Trump is taking a risk either way. If there is a significant number of GOP primary voters who are supporting him but could be swayed to vote for another candidate, Trump’s failure to participate in any primary debate will give his opponents free rein to define his record without Trump being able to defend himself.

This is likely the reason why Trump is planning his interview with Tucker Carlson at the same time as the first debate. He’s clearly hoping that interest in his interview will kill the ratings of the debate. Maybe an interview with Carlson will reduce interest in the debate, but this strategy won’t work forever and could backfire.

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