‘He’s Afraid’: 2024 GOP Contenders Respond To Reports That Trump Might Skip Debates
- Several GOP presidential contenders criticized former President Trump as he reportedly considers skipping one or more primary debates.
- The former president has suggested he might skip one or more of the first Republican presidential debates because he doesn’t want to give his opponents air time to their jabs at him and is leading the polls by wide margins.
- “Donald Trump will change his position on whether he will or will not participate in the debate numerous times over the next few months. The victim card is important to him,” former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Republican presidential contenders, both declared and undeclared, responded Wednesday to the recent report that former President Donald Trump might skip some GOP primary debates, with several criticizing the former president in comments to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The former president is considering skipping one or more of the first Republican presidential debates, as he doesn’t want to give air time to his opponents’ jabs and continues to lead the polls by large margins, sources familiar told The New York Times. Several 2024 GOP contenders criticized Trump’s possible debate boycott and told the DCNF it’s important to the American people to see the candidates engage on stage.
“Donald Trump will change his position on whether he will or will not participate in the debate numerous times over the next few months,” former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told the DCNF. “The victim card is important to him. I will participate because we owe it to the voters to do so. The debates are important for voters to hear solutions to the economic crisis created by Joe Biden’s administration.”
Conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy doubts the former president will skip the debates.
“I think Trump will debate,” Ramaswamy told the DCNF. “But, if he doesn’t that would be the best sign that he isn’t the same man he was in 2015.”
Ramaswamy also criticized the Democratic National Convention for not hosting primary debates, preventing President Joe Biden from formally addressing his opponents, he said.
“It’s pathetic that the Democrats are protecting Joe Biden from debate,” said Ramaswamy. “We’ve gotta be better than that.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has yet to officially announce a campaign, believes it’s important to participate in debates so that the American voters can make an informed decision on who the nominee should be, he toldHugh Hewitt in a podcast interview forwarded to the DCNF.
“I’m sorry to see that Donald Trump feels like if he gets on the stage, he’s at risk of losing his lead,” Christie said. “If, in fact, his ideas are so great, if his leadership is so outstanding, then his lead will only increase if he gets on the stage, not decrease. But obviously, he’s afraid. He’s afraid to get on the stage against people who are serious.”
The Real Clear Politics (RCP) average for a national 2024 Republican nomination, based on polls conducted between April 11 and April 29, indicates that Trump has a 29-percentage-point lead in a GOP primary field. Hutchinson, Ramaswamy and Christie have RCP averages of 0.9%, 2.6% and 1%, respectively.
The former governor and frequent Trump critic said that any candidate who’s “serious” about becoming the president should show up to every debate.
“To the extent that President Trump doesn’t want to participate in them, people should wonder why,” said Christie. “And I think it’s because he doesn’t have a lot of serious answers for the problems that are facing the country right now. All he wants to do is go back and re-prosecute the 2020 election because his feelings are hurt. He’s a child in that regard.”
Conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who has not yet registered in the polls to garner a RCP average, differed from his GOP counterparts in that he believes it is fully Trump’s decision not to engage in the debates, the radio personality told the DCNF.
“I wouldn’t pretend to give former President Trump, tactical advice on whether he should participate or skip the debates,” said Elder. “So it’s a decision that Trump will have to make. All I know, is that I’m certainly going to participate in the debates.”
Elder cited his own lack of participation in Republican debates when he ran in California’s recall election in 2021 to remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office; he said he was only focused on taking down Newsom, and wasn’t concerned with his GOP opponents.
Trump previously indicated he might skip the first to debates via a post on social media app Truth Social where he also cited his high polling numbers and criticized the location of the second debate, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
The former president participated in 11 out of 12 Republican primary debates for the 2016 election. Trump began to steadily lead in the polls once the debates started, according to his RCP averages from 2015 to 2016, generating headlines during his exchanges with the crowded field.
The first GOP presidential debate will be held in August by the Republican National Committee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and will be partnered with Fox News, the Young America’s Foundation and the video media app Rumble. The RNC will host the second debate at the the Reagan Library in California, though a date has not been set.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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