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Trump Bypasses Republican Primary Debate, Stoking Controversy And Igniting Intra-Party Clash

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(CTN NEWS) – In a pronouncement made on Sunday, the former Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, solidified his intention to forgo participation in the inaugural Republican primary debate slated for Wednesday, a stance he plans to uphold for ensuing debates as well.

The ex-president conveyed his sentiment on his social media platform, stating, “The general populace possesses a comprehensive understanding of my identity and the prosperity of my tenure as President.

As a consequence, I shall abstain from engaging in these debates!”

Notwithstanding, his spokesperson refrained from expounding whether this abstention encompasses all forthcoming primary debates or is exclusive to those presently on the schedule.

The erstwhile leader and early frontrunner of the Grand Old Party had voiced his reservations about sharing the stage with his Republican contenders during their impending assembly in Milwaukee on Wednesday, an apprehension he sustained due to his substantial dominance in the electoral race.

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Trump’s Reluctance and Preparations for Debates Amidst Fox News Controversy

His viewpoint, he emphasized to those with whom he conversed in recent days, remains steadfast.

“Pray tell, why should I submit myself to a barrage of inquiries from individuals commanding a mere 1% or 2% of the electorate, or, even more bewilderingly, a complete absence of support?” he expounded during a June interview with Bret Baier of Fox News, who is set to officiate as a moderator.

In addition, Trump has recurrently censured Fox, the host network for the August 23 primetime occasion, branding it a “hostile network” that he asserts will bestow unfair treatment upon him.

Trump had been deliberating a gamut of strategies to counteract the debates, which encompassed contemplating an interview with Tucker Carlson, an erstwhile host of Fox News who has since transitioned to anchoring a program on the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Sources conveyed that Carlson was observed at Trump’s Bedminster, located in New Jersey, a golf establishment, ahead of this announcement.

The rendezvous was disclosed by an individual familiar with the matter who spoke under the condition of anonymity, as they lacked authorization to discuss it.

An article in The New York Times published on Saturday divulged that the interview slated for Wednesday has, indeed, been prerecorded.

“We neither confirm nor deny – stay tuned,” remarked Steven Cheung, the spokesperson for Trump.

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Trump’s Contemplated Options and Ongoing Clash with Fox: An In-depth Analysis

Amongst various options Trump had contemplated during recent discussions, this idea had emerged.

The array of options included last-minute appearances in Milwaukee, being present in the audience while providing live commentary on his Truth Social platform, the possibility of engaging with different networks via phone calls to attract viewers away from the debate, or even organizing a rally in lieu of participation.

This decision marks another episode in the ongoing clash between Trump and Fox. While once a staunch supporter, Fox now appears more aligned with his primary competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Executives and hosts from Fox had urged Trump both privately and through their broadcasts to participate. However, Trump, as per a close associate, remained unpersuaded. He believed their pursuit indicated concerns about their ratings rather than genuine interest.

An individual familiar with the situation mentioned that, as of Sunday, Trump and his team had not informed the Republican National Committee about his intentions.

Simultaneously, Trump’s opponents had been egging him on to join the debate and were preparing for the possibility of his participation.

They feared that his absence might portray them as secondary candidates, depriving them of the chance to make a significant impact against the formidable frontrunner and potentially alter the trajectory of the race.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, known for directly challenging Trump, accused the ex-president of lacking courage if he chose not to attend. He labeled Trump a “coward” if he didn’t participate.

A pro-DeSantis super PAC unveiled an advertisement featuring a narrator declaring, “We can’t afford a nominee who is too weak to debate.”

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DeSantis’ Campaign Asserts Nomination Must Be Earned; Trump Defends Decision to Skip Debate

On the social media platform X, previously Twitter, DeSantis’ campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo emphasized that the nomination wasn’t guaranteed and had to be earned through participation.

Trump dismissed these attacks, stating to Newsmax’s Eric Bolling that participating held little benefit given his substantial lead. He framed his choice as a matter of intelligence rather than courage.

Additionally, Trump confirmed that he wouldn’t sign a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee if he didn’t secure the nomination himself. The Republican National Committee mandated this pledge as a requirement for debate participation.

Trump questioned the rationale, citing several individuals he wouldn’t endorse for president.

Nevertheless, Trump’s advisors had maintained for weeks that he hadn’t made a final decision, although they acknowledged that his public and private statements strongly indicated his reluctance to appear.

This isn’t the first instance of Trump skipping a major GOP debate.

During his 2016 campaign, he opted out of the final GOP primary debate ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Instead, he hosted a separate campaign event, which garnered attention but ultimately led to a loss in the Iowa caucuses.

In 2020, Trump withdrew from the second general election debate against now-President Joe Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates proposed a virtual format due to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

Trump insisted on an in-person debate and subsequently didn’t participate.

Trump won’t be the sole candidate absent from the upcoming event. Several lesser-known contenders are unlikely to meet the Republican National Committee’s participation criteria.

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Former President Donald Trump gestures after speaking at a fundraiser event for the Alabama GOP, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Qualifications and Pledge Requirements for Republican Candidates in the Debate

Qualifications entail receiving contributions from at least 40,000 individual donors, with 200 unique donors in 20 or more states. Candidates must also poll at a minimum of 1% in three designated national polls or a combination of national and early-state polls between July 1 and August 21.

Those who have fulfilled these requirements include DeSantis, Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

Beyond fundraising and polling prerequisites, candidates are required to sign a pledge supporting the eventual party nominee and agreeing not to participate in non-RNC-sanctioned debates for the remainder of the election cycle.

The RNC is boycotting Commission for Presidential Debates events, alleging bias.

The pledge, as posted by DeSantis, emphasizes honoring the primary voters’ choice and supporting the nominee for the sake of the country’s betterment. Candidates are also prohibited from running as independents, write-in candidates, or third-party nominees.

While some candidates, such as Christie and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, have reservations about the loyalty pledge, former Texas Representative Will Hurd is the only one definitively declining to sign it, citing an unwillingness to support Trump if he becomes the nominee.

Christie expressed willingness to sign whatever is necessary to qualify for the debate stage.

In addition to his opposition to the loyalty pledge, Trump has indicated his disapproval of boycotting general election debates hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates. He stressed an obligation to participate during a radio interview earlier this spring.

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