Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), said on Wednesday that it would be “a mistake” for former President Donald Trump to skip the GOP’s first primary debates next month.
Mr. Trump, citing his lead in national polls, has indicated on several occasions that he is considering skipping the debate, to be hosted by Fox News on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Speaking in an interview on “Fox & Friends” on July 19, Ms. McDaniel confirmed that she has addressed the former commander-in-chief about his attendance, and added that she hopes all candidates who qualify will appear on the stage. She did not provide details on the discussion she had with Mr. Trump.
“I think it’s a mistake to not do the debates, but that’s going to be up to him and his campaign,” Ms. McDaniel told the network.
“I think getting in front of the American people, with the Fox audience that you’re going to bring, people are clamoring for solutions,” she added. “And this is an opportunity for us to contrast our ideas versus the Democrats. It’s not just about the primary. It’s also about the general election because we are going to need independent voters and others to win the White House.”
Ms. McDaniel argued that the event would be a good opportunity for Republican candidates to win the nomination by showcasing their political views as they engage with each other in front of a large audience, which could be helpful for voters in deciding which candidate to vote for.
“This is an audience of 20 million people-plus,” Ms. McDaniel said. “Joe Biden has the legacy media on his side. So leaving that opportunity aside and not getting on the debate stage is just more of an opportunity for Joe Biden to continue to get his message out,” she added.
“We have an opportunity to take up all the oxygen in the room and get on that debate stage and talk about the fact that eighth and fourth graders right now—two-thirds of them—aren’t reading or math proficient,” she continued, urging Republican candidates to debate how a GOP leadership would address fentanyl deaths, the border crisis, and increase in crime “after the failure of Joe Biden.”
Mr. Trump, however, has yet to confirm whether he will participate in next month’s debate. In late June, the former president told Reuters in a telephone interview that he would possibly not attend the event, noting that he has entertained offers to hold a separate event during the scheduled debate or later that same evening.
“We’ve had a lot of offers, whether it’s a rally or whether it’s an interview by somebody else,” he said at the time. “Not to be braggadocious, but the debate will not be a very exciting one if I’m not there.”
When asked again about his attendance in an interview on “Sunday Morning Futures” last week, Mr. Trump said that he hasn’t decided whether he would join the debate.
“It’s actually not fair. Why would you let somebody that’s at zero or one or two or three [percent] be popping you with questions?” Mr. Trump said on July 16. “Ronald Reagan didn’t do it, a lot of people didn’t do it. When you have a big lead, you don’t do it,” he added.
Meanwhile, several GOP candidates have criticized the former president for suggesting he may skip the debate altogether, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who accused the former president of being afraid to join the debate out of fear of losing his lead in the race.
“If Trump doesn’t want to debate, then he doesn’t want to be president,” Mr. Christie, a former ally of Mr. Trump who is now one of his fiercest critics, said in a June 26 post on Twitter.
National polls have consistently shown that Mr. Trump continues to remain the GOP’s favorite candidate in the 2024 election. He also continues to hold a significant endorsement edge over all other candidates.
According to the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average as of July 20, Mr. Trump was outpacing his nearest Republican challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by nearly 33 percentage points. All other GOP presidential hopefuls ranked in the single digits.
On the other side of the political spectrum, RCP shows that President Joe Biden is the clear frontrunner for his party’s nomination. The Democrat president holds a whopping 50-point margin over environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
A Trump-Biden hypothetical matchup showed Mr. Biden with only a 0.4-percent lead—statistically insignificant considering that many polls included in the RCP average have margins of error of about 3 percent.
From NTD News