By Chris Katje
Former President Donald Trump is a front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2024. With many candidates entering the primary race to challenge him, the debates could play a key role.
Given his commanding lead in the Republican Party, Trump is considering skipping out on debates among GOP candidates.
“The latest update to the Republican debate landscape comes as shows Trump has a 38-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis among Republican voters,” said a Morning Consult poll.
Trump has 57% of the vote in the poll versus 19% for DeSantis.
“Outside the leading two candidates, no others have double-digit support, with Mike Pence and Vivek Ramaswamy ranking third and fourth at 7% and 6%, respectively, said the poll.
Trump’s support in the poll has hovered over 50% in recent months, and he has held a 30-point to 40-point lead over DeSantis in most months.
The latest Morning Consult poll also saw Trump take the lead in a poll among all voters for a hypothetical rematch against Biden. Trump led with 44% support versus 41% for Biden in the poll.
Given his dominant position in polls, Trump has called out the lack of competition recently.
“Somebody said, ‘How come you only attack (DeSantis)?’ I said ‘Cause he’s in second place,’” said Trump recently to a crowd in New Hampshire.
“But soon, I don’t think he’ll be in second place, so I’ll be attacking somebody else,” said Trump.
Trump reportedly plans on skipping the debate and could host a competing event instead.
“He is not going to debate unless he’s forced to by changing polling,” said NBC quoting an unnamed source. “I disagree with it, but it is where he is.”
Some advisors say that given Trump’s lead, he could have more to lose than potentially gain from a debate against his competition.
Trump has mentioned skipping the debate for months and the decision appears to be more heavily tilted toward skipping than it once was.
“He shops opinions with everyone and will get, like, 100 different opinions,” said an adviser to NBC. “He wants to know what everyone thinks but will ultimately do what he wants to do.
The advisor added that if Trump skips the debate, it is unlikely he will stay home.
Trump previously skipped the final Republican debate in the 2016 election cycle, in which he ultimately won the party’s nomination.
While there are multiple Republican candidates, the debate could feature a limited number with requirements that candidates reach campaign contributions from 40,000 donors and 1% support in polls.
Not having Trump at the Republican presidential debate could be a loss for Fox and Rumble, both of which would likely generate higher ratings if the former president appears.
“Fox wants him to be in the debate to help “get them ratings,” said Trump previously.
The timing of the debate could also play into Trump’s final decision, with a trial date of Aug. 14 set for federal charges against him related to classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Republican candidate Chris Christie has previously called out Trump for considering skipping the debates.
“Obviously, he’s afraid,” said Christie. “He’s afraid to get on the stage against people who are serious. And I’m sorry to see that he’s afraid of it.”
Christie questioned the trust people could have in Trump if he is willing to skip debates and questions about his candidacy.
“If he’s that afraid of that, how can we count on him to do any better with President Xi than the failures he had in his first time with China? How can we expect him to do any better with Putin?” said Christie.
Christie added that Trump has no business being president if he’s afraid of the debates.
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Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager
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