Former US President Donald Trump confirmed on Sunday that he will skip Wednesday’s first Republican presidential debate, but other debates as well.
“The public knows who I am and what a successful presidency I have had,” Mr Trump wrote on his social media page. “THEREFORE I WILL NOT ARGUMENT”!
His spokesman did not immediately clarify whether he plans to boycott any preliminary debates or only those currently scheduled.
The former president has said for months that he sees little advantage in facing his Republican rivals when they meet for the first time in Milwaukee on Wednesday, given his lead in the race. He had made it clear to those he had spoken to in recent days that his opinion had not changed.
“Why would I let the 1 percent or the 2 percent or the 0 percent people bombard me with questions all night long?” he said in a June interview with Fox News host Bret Baier, who will serve as moderator of Wednesday’s debate Mr. Trump has also repeatedly criticized Fox, which hosts the Aug. 23 event, insisting it is a “hostile network” that he believes will not treat him fairly.
Mr Trump has discussed a number of other debate opportunities, including an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who hosts a show on the website formerly known as Twitter.
Mr. Carlson was seen at Mr. Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, before the announcement, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it. The New York Times reported on Saturday that the interview, which will air on Wednesday, has already been recorded.
“We can’t confirm or deny — stay with us,” said Mr. Trump’s spokesman, Steven Cheung.
The idea had been one of several alternatives that Mr Trump had mentioned during talks in recent weeks.
They included the possibility of appearing in Milwaukee at the last minute or participating but from the audience and offering live comments on his “Truth Social” page.
He had also discussed the possibility of linking to various networks to distract viewers from the debate, or holding a rally instead of participating in the debate.
Clashes with Fox
The decision marks another chapter in Mr. Trump’s ongoing feud with the Fox channel that was once a staunch supporter but is now perceived as more favorable to his main rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Fox executives stepped up efforts to persuade Mr. Trump to attend, both privately and over the network’s airwaves. But Mr. Trump, according to a person close to him, was adamant that the leaders would not want him in the debate if they were not worried about themselves.
A person close to the matter said on Sunday that Mr Trump and his team had not notified the Republican National Committee of his plans.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s rivals have urged him to appear at the debate and have prepared in the hope that he could attend, worried that not attending could make them look like second-rate candidates and deny them the chance to strike a blow at the Goliath of the race that could change its course.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, one of the few candidates willing to confront Mr Trump directly, has accused the former president of not having the “guts to come out” and called him a “coward” if he doesn’t such a thing.
A so-called super PAC group supporting Mr. DeSantis ran an ad saying “we cannot afford a candidate who is too weak to debate.”
And in a post Sunday on the X Network, formerly known as Twitter, Mr. DeSantis’ campaign spokesman, Andrew Romeo, said the Florida governor was looking forward to sharing his views Wednesday on what he will do as president because “no one has the privilege of the nomination, including Mr. Donald Trump. You have to show up and earn it.”
Mr. Trump has pushed back against the attacks, telling Newsmax’s Eric Bolling that he sees little benefit in turning out when he already leads by a wide margin.
“It’s not a matter of courage. It’s a matter of intelligence,” he said.
Pledge of Allegiance
Mr. Trump has also said he will not sign a pledge to support the presumptive Republican nominee if he loses the nomination, a requirement imposed by the Republican National Committee.
“Why would I sign it?” he said. “I can nominate three or four people I wouldn’t support for president. So there’s a problem there.”
However, his advisers insisted for weeks that he had not yet made a final decision, although they admitted it was “very clear” from his public and private statements that he was unlikely to appear.
It is not the first time Mr. Trump has chosen to skip a major Republican debate.
During his 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump decided to forego the final Republican primary showdown before the Iowa primary by holding a campaign rally at a veterans fundraiser.
While the event put him in the headlines and drew attention from his rivals, Mr. Trump lost the Iowa primary to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a loss that some former aides said was due, at least in part, to his decision to bypass the debate.
In 2020, Mr. Trump withdrew from the second election debate against now-President Joe Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan group that has organized election debates for more than three decades, tried to hold it virtually after Mr. Trump exited tested positive for COVID 19. Mr. Trump refused, saying he would only debate on stage.
Mr. Trump is not the only candidate likely to be absent from Wednesday’s debate. Some lesser-known rivals appear unlikely to meet the threshold set by the Republican National Committee to run. To qualify, candidates must have received contributions from at least 40,000 individual donors, with at least 200 individual donors in 20 or more states. They must also have 1 percent of the vote in three designated national polls, or a combination of national and early state polls, between July 1 and August 21.
Candidates who have qualified include Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
Beyond the fundraising and voting requirements, the Republican National Committee has said candidates must also sign a pledge agreeing to support the party’s presumptive nominee, as well as agree not to participate in any Committee-sanctioned debates for the remainder of the term. of the election cycle. The Republican National Committee is boycotting events organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, alleging bias.
“I affirm that if I do not win the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2024, I will honor the will of the voters and support the candidate to save our country and defeat Mr. Joe Biden,” the pledge reads, according to in a copy posted by Mr. DeSantis on the social media site X.
Candidates must also pledge not to run as independents, or nominated by third parties.
While several candidates, including Mr. Christie and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, have raised questions about the requirement, former Texas representative Will Hurd has so far been the only one to say definitively that he will not sign the pledge because he refuses to support it. Mr. Trump if he becomes the final candidate.
Mr. Christie has said he will sign whatever is needed to get on stage.
In addition to expressing opposition to the Pledge of Allegiance, former President Trump has hinted that he is against boycotting election debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
“You have, really, an obligation to do that,” he said in a radio interview this spring.