Trump: Yep, I'm Skipping First Republican Debate

And possibly all the others, though that's not entirely clear
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
Trump Officially Skipping First Republican Debate
FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks as he visits the Iowa State Fair, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Former President Trump is officially out: Trump confirmed Sunday in a Truth Social post that he will not be attending the first Republican debate of the 2024 presidential primary season when it is held Wednesday. "New CBS POLL, just out, has me leading the field by 'legendary' numbers," he wrote, per Politico. "The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!" That's debates, plural, notes the AP—but Trump's spokesperson declined to clarify whether Trump was actually committing to skipping all of the debates. (As for the poll he mentioned, that's here, and it shows Trump with a whopping 62% support.)

Since he's out for this first one, however, Politico notes that'll put Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis front and center, which is good news and bad news for him: It gives him an opportunity to paint himself as "the leading Trump alternative," per the site's analysis, but also opens him up to attacks from the other eight 2024 candidates who've qualified for the debate. Those are: Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Chris Christie, Doug Burgum, Asa Hutchinson, and Perry Johnson. Trump's decision is also likely bad news for Fox News, since it could bring ratings for the debate way down. According to the New York Times, which has a deep dive into Trump's decision, the former POTUS has already recorded a sit-down with Tucker Carlson that will air online Wednesday night. (DeSantis, of course, is attacking Trump for refusing to attend.)

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