Former U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he would be skipping the upcoming Republican primary debates, citing his significant lead in opinion polls as evidence that he was already well-known and favored by voters in preparation for the 2024 election. Trump had been hinting for months that he would likely forego Wednesday night's debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, arguing that it would be unnecessary to give his Republican rivals an opportunity to attack him, given his substantial lead in national polls. According to a recent CBS poll, Trump was the preferred candidate for 62% of Republican voters, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis trailing far behind at 16%. All other candidates in the primary race had less than 10% support. Trump took to his social media app, Truth Social, to express his reasoning, stating, "The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had. I will therefore not be doing the debates." However, his campaign did not immediately respond to inquiries regarding whether this meant he would be abstaining from all Republican debates.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that Trump had participated in a taped interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, set to be posted online on Wednesday. The platform for the interview had not yet been disclosed. Trump's absence from this week's debate could potentially shift the spotlight onto DeSantis, making him the target of attacks from other candidates vying to position themselves as the primary alternative to the former president. It is crucial to note that the winner of the Republican nominating contest will face Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2024 election. Andrew Romeo, a spokesperson for DeSantis' campaign, expressed enthusiasm for the Florida governor's participation in the debate, stating that he looked forward to sharing his vision for a potential presidency in Milwaukee. Romeo further emphasized that no one, including Donald Trump, was entitled to the nomination, and it had to be earned.
Recent polling data from Reuters/Ipsos indicated that Trump held 47% of the Republican vote nationally, while DeSantis experienced a decline of six percentage points from July, now standing at a mere 13%. None of the other candidates scheduled to attend the debate had managed to break out of single digits. In addition to his political aspirations, Trump faces a Friday deadline to voluntarily surrender in Fulton County, Georgia, following his indictment last week on a fourth criminal charge related to an alleged scheme to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.
Amidst these developments, prominent U.S. Senate Republican Bill Cassidy asserted on Sunday that Donald Trump should withdraw from the 2024 Republican White House race. Cassidy, one of seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial in 2021, argued that the federal documents case against Trump was nearly indisputable. He warned that voters would not elect a person convicted of a crime as president and predicted that Trump would lose against Joe Biden if current polls were considered. Cassidy, a Republican known for his bipartisan efforts, played a pivotal role in the creation of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill in 2021. Despite Trump's mounting legal troubles, including four criminal indictments, one involving his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House, he still maintains his status as the leading Republican presidential candidate.
As the first party primary debate approaches, none of the other candidates have managed to gain significant traction, with Trump expected to skip the event in favor of the online interview with Tucker Carlson. The unfolding situation leaves Republicans uncertain about the future of their party and the potential implications of Trump's legal battles on their chances of reclaiming the presidency in 2024.
themes: Joe Biden Donald Trump Florida Georgia New York (state) Wisconsin