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Why Trump Should Steer Clear Of The Debate Stage — For Now


As many of Donald Trump’s opponents desperately scramble to qualify for the first GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee on August 23, the former President has maintained for months that he may pass on the highly anticipated event.

Once again, this demonstrates Trump’s marketing sass – and his smarts when navigating the murky media landscape that loves nothing but to position him in a negative light, irrespective of what he says or does. Whichever way you look at it, Trump on the debate stage doesn’t benefit him; it only rewards the media conglomerates that love to hate him as they exploit the undeniable fact that he is charismatic ratings gold. Why should he give them all ratings boosts when all these networks will do is endeavor to make him look bad? Even if he did well, the media ecosystem would find a way to cherry-pick and callously spin his performance.

If Trump was walking into a fair fight, if it were plausible that he would be treated with an equal and objective eye, taking the stage would be a different story. However, after more than eight years of endless and often unwarranted onslaughts, it is pretty clear that isn’t going to happen under the mainstream media’s unscrupulous watch anytime soon.

Moreover, the first debate is set to air on Fox News, a network that has recently fallen from the “fair and balanced” path. The second – which Trump is also believed to possibly skip – will be hosted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, which never bothered to invite him to speak during his presidential tenure, and whose board is chaired by Fred Ryan, the publisher of The Washington Post. This paper relishes in almost daily attacks of the previous President. Thus, why should Trump bother giving them a bump with his presence? For him, there is no upside.

The hypocrisy is undeniable. While the press is already brimming with slam stories at the mere mention Trump might not show, the same outlets didn’t flinch – and instead embraced – the stance of Arizona Democratic gubernatorial nominee when she chose not to debate Republican rival Kari Lake last year, despite polls showing the two women neck-and-neck.

And in Trump’s case, he doesn’t even have to worry about his foes coming close anytime soon. Regardless of which poll you examine, the 45th POTUS is miles ahead of all other candidates – Ron DeSantis, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy – who have so far met the GOP criterion for entering the debate arena. Trump is clearly the heavyweight boxing champion, and like any top performer, he can afford to wait it out among the pool of distant underdogs until a few inches at least a little closer to holding their own in the ring.

Of course, several contenders haven’t confessed their poor polling performance but have instead accused Donald Trump of being “afraid” to take them on. What nonsense. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to highlight that Trump took on some of the world’s wildest dictators in office and certainly doesn’t hold back when putting weight on his words. Scared isn’t in his DNA. Trump is an open book, a strongman figure who commands attention, and he does not need to duke it out with others far below his popularity scale. Trump is also a man of his word. Let’s not forget he also bypassed the stage of a Fox News debate ahead of the Iowa caucus amid a public feud with then-anchor Megyn Kelly (the event was then called off) not out of fear but out of principle and the stand against inequitable treatment.

Besides, the other hopefuls should be grateful for the opportunity to get their views across to a broader audience without Trump beside them. Whether one likes it or not, Trump’s natural style is to dominate the spotlight. Subsequently, rumors are rampant that Trump will offer some counterprogramming as the first debate goes down – possibly a rally or another event to take place simultaneously. In that case, it is not difficult to determine which showdown would attract the most interest and eyeballs.

Given that the media exercises its agenda regarding the treatment of Trump, he should continue to play his game by his rules. There is little need for the evident frontrunner to take the stage anytime soon, perhaps only when the overflowing caravan of hopefuls is down to two or three contenders.

Trump has been burned enough in years past that he doesn’t need to give the news establishment a free and undeserved pass. Winners don’t make the same mistake twice.

Adam Weiss is the CEO of AMW PR, a New York based political strategy and communications firm. His firm has worked with Jim Brown, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Congressman Lee Zeldin, Eboni Williams, Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, Andrew Giuliani, Governor Haley Barbour, Steve Hilton. Anthony Scaramucci, and more.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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