Trump Contemplates Skipping First GOP Presidential Debate: A Bold Move or Political Risk?

As the Republican presidential primary approaches, President Donald Trump faces the decision of whether or not to participate in the first debate. With such a comfortable lead in the polls over his closest competitors in the polling, Trump has raised doubts about the necessity of attending the event. In addition, the Republican National Committee’s controversial requirements for the debate have drawn criticism from both Trump and anti-Trump competitors, including a demand that candidates pledge to support the final nominee.


During an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that aired Sunday, Trump reiterated that he may not show up for the debate.

Trump touted his position in the polls as the main reason for possibly skipping the debate, telling Bartiromo:

Well, it’s quite an easy question normally. Ronald Reagan didn’t do it, and a lot of other people didn’t do it. When you have a big lead, you don’t do it. We have a lead of 50 and 60 points in some cases and some of these people are at zero. Ron DeSanctis, as I call him, or DeSanctimonious he’s in the teens now, and I’m at 50 and 60 and 65, and I saw one today at 70. And so you’re leading people by 50 and 60 points, and you say, Why would you be doing a debate? It’s actually not fair. Why would you let somebody that’s at zero or one or two or three be popping you with questions?

Trump also suggested that some candidates on the debate stage could be potential options for his running mate or cabinet members if he wins the nomination. He expressed confidence in winning the vote of suburban women based on his policies focused on safety, strong military, low taxes, and border security.


One of the most significant advantages for Trump in not participating is the preservation of his substantial lead in the polls. By abstaining from the debate, he avoids the risk of making any missteps that could lead to a decline in support. Love him or hate him, we all know Trump tends to be his own worst enemy, especially when he is in front of a microphone. This approach allows him to maintain a positive image and capitalize on the perception that he is the clear frontrunner in the race.

In a debate setting, Trump will undoubtedly become a target of attacks from his competitors, especially given his prominent position in the race. It is clear he has a gigantic target on his back. By staying away from the stage, he shields himself from potential attacks and scrutiny that could damage his image or require him to defend his policies and actions.

With the absence of debate preparations and appearances, Trump can concentrate more on his campaign strategy, devising plans to appeal to a broader range of voters and ensuring that his messages resonate with the electorate.

By not participating in the debate, Trump can send a signal of confidence in his lead and ability to win the nomination. It may portray him as a strong and decisive leader, further reinforcing his position as the preferred candidate.

However, there are several potential problems related to skipping the debate that could harm Trump’s campaign.


Debates are critical opportunities for candidates to reach out to undecided voters and solidify support among their existing base. By not participating, Trump could potentially miss a chance to sway more voters in his favor, especially those who are still uncertain about their choice. There are plenty of agnostic voters out there who have not made up their minds. The former president has an opportunity to pull them in his direction.

Critics and opponents may interpret Trump’s decision not to participate as an evasion tactic or a sign of weakness. In fact, they would be fools not to. DeSantis, currently polling in second place, will undoubtedly chide the former president for skipping the debate. They could portray Trump’s absence as evidence that he is afraid of taking direct attacks and being placed under greater scrutiny.

Voters may question whether he is unwilling to face tough questions or engage in discussions with his rivals. Depending on how the situation is spun, it could lead folks to question whether Trump has what it takes to fight it out in the general election.

Also, debates typically generate substantial media coverage, and Trump’s absence might lead to reduced media exposure for his campaign and less attention to his campaign’s initiatives and policies, potentially allowing other candidates to seize the limelight.

While Trump has a significant lead in the polls, campaign fundraising remains crucial for any candidate. Skipping the debate could lead to decreased fundraising momentum as donors might expect candidates to engage actively in the primary process.


Ultimately, the decision of whether to participate in the first Republican presidential debate is a delicate one. With a commanding lead in the polling, not participating could help maintain his frontrunner status and avoid potential pitfalls. However, it also comes with the risk of missing out on opportunities to connect with voters and facing accusations of evasiveness. No matter what Trump decides, his presence will loom large in the debate hall, and the proceedings should be worth watching for the political junkie class.


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