President Donald Trump hinted this week at possibly skipping the announced Republican primary debates. Trump expressed concern over the alleged biases inside the party and in the corporate media against him. With a significant lead in the polls, the former president is questioning the necessity of participating in the debates, which contentious interactions with moderators and unfair treatment have historically marked.
In a post on Truth Social, Trump addressed the issue, saying, “When you’re leading by seemingly insurmountable numbers, and you have hostile Networks with angry, TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors asking the ‘questions,’ why subject yourself to being libeled and abused?”
Trump Throws Down the Gauntlet, Threatens to Skip GOP Debates https://t.co/S4XoDDEvjz @realDonaldTrump should hold a rally same night across street from each debate and blow the doors off the stupid debates!! @GOPChairwoman is a moron! she learned nothing from @pnjaban
— MEGA MAGA REPUBLICAN (@BillWil43206573) April 25, 2023
Trump also took issue with the location of the second GOP debate, scheduled at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Fred Ryan, publisher of The Washington Post, serves as chairman of the board of trustees at the Reagan Library, raising concerns over impartiality.
This isn’t the first time Trump has contemplated skipping debates. During the 2016 primary, he threatened to skip a debate over concerns that then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly would not treat him fairly. In 2019, Trump suggested he might not participate in the 2020 presidential debates if they were hosted by Fox News due to disagreements with the network’s coverage.
With a commanding lead in the polls, Trump’s potential decision to skip the debates raises questions about the significance of these events in shaping public opinion. According to polling from FiveThirtyEight, Trump currently holds 51% support in Republican primary polls, well ahead of potential contenders such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 24.5% and former Vice President Mike Pence at 5.5%.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has not yet outlined the criteria for participating in the upcoming primary debates. However, Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel stated that candidates wishing to participate must agree to support the eventual nominee, which Trump did not do during the 2016 primary.
Trump’s possible absence from the debates could be unprecedented, given his high-profile competitors and the tradition of candidates participating in these events. Yet, considering Trump’s history of dissatisfaction with debate organizers and alleged biases against him, it is not entirely surprising.
While some argue that Trump’s participation in the debates is crucial for a healthy democratic process, others may see it as unnecessary due to his experience as a former president and substantial lead in the polls. As the Republican primary field continues to take shape, the decision to participate in the debates remains a significant consideration for the Trump campaign.