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Donald Trump has announced he will skip the Republican presidential debates as polls on Sunday and Monday showed him leading the party’s nomination.
Trump’s move breaks with the tradition of leading presidential candidates participating in the debates. The first Republican debate of the 2024 race is set for Wednesday night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The former president, whose campaign has been overshadowed by criminal charges brought against him at the federal and state level, has increasingly questioned the need to appear in recent weeks.
In a social media post on Sunday, he confirmed that he will not run with Republican contenders for the White House.
“The public knows who I am and what a successful presidency I have had, with energy independence, strong borders and military, the largest tax and regulatory cuts ever, zero inflation, the strongest economy in history and more,” Trump wrote. “So I won’t do the debates,” he added.
Trump cited a CBS poll released Sunday showing that 62 percent of Republican primary voters now support him, giving him his largest lead to date in the race to win his party’s nomination.
The next most popular candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, trailed Trump, receiving only 16 percent of those surveyed. The remaining seven presidential hopefuls had only single-digit support.
Another closely-watched poll released Monday showed Trump with a big gain in Iowa, the first contest for the party’s White House nomination next year.
An NBC/Des Moines Register poll conducted by veteran Iowa pollster Ann Selzer found that Trump had the support of 42 percent of attendees at the state’s Republican caucus.
DeSantis was third with 19 percent, followed by South Carolina Senator Tim Scott with 9 percent. Polls show Trump holding his edge despite the flurry of criminal charges he has faced in recent weeks. But it also pointed out that Trump’s advantage is smaller in Iowa than it is nationally.
The New York Times reported Friday that Trump plans to skip the first debate and instead sit down for an interview with firebrand conservative TV host Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Trump has not confirmed that plan, but such a decision would be particularly painful for Fox as it hosts Wednesday’s debate.
All of Trump’s main rivals are expected to appear in the first debate, including DeSantis; Scott; Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) campaigner Vivek Ramasamy Invest; former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley; and Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president.
“Who knows what’s going to happen? Either way we’ll be prepared. But I’m happy to do it because so much of what you do in this process is filtered through the media,” DeSantis said Friday during an appearance in Atlanta, Georgia.
DeSantis took a swipe at Trump and insisted he unfairly lost re-election in 2020.: “I hope we focus on the future of the country rather than some other static things that are now.
Pence criticized Trump for not showing up. “Each of us who are qualified for that debate platform should be on stage, ready to answer tough questions and draw bright-line distinctions on a variety of issues,” the former vice president told ABC News. On Sunday.
To qualify for the debate, Republican candidates must meet certain donor and poll thresholds and pledge to support the party’s final candidate in the general election.
Wisconsin has been an important swing state in the last two general elections, with Trump winning by a narrow margin against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and then losing to Joe Biden in 2020 — by an even slimmer margin.
Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for Biden’s re-election campaign, said Trump did not want to appear in Milwaukee because the state highlighted his “failed leadership.”
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