Trump to Skip Third Republican Primary Debate: Who Benefits?

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Former President Donald Trump will be skipping the third Republican presidential primary debate. Team Trump seems to believe his healthy lead in the polls makes his participation unnecessary.


Instead of debating his rivals, the former president will hold a rally in Florida on the same date, which he announced in a post on Truth Social.

Trump’s absence from the debate stage is nothing new; he skipped the first two debates as well. Instead, he appeared on alternative media engagements which aired at the same time as the events.

Interestingly enough, biotech entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy indicated that he might also skip the third debate, even though he participated in the first two.

Former President Donald Trump may not be the only 2024 Republican contender to rule out participating in next month's third GOP presidential nomination debate in Florida.

Vivek Ramaswamy would not commit to the Nov. 8 showdown in Miami.

"I’m considering my options," the multimillionaire biotech entrepreneur and first-time presidential candidate told Fox News on Wednesday after filing to place his name on the presidential primary ballot in New Hampshire.

The question is: Who stands to gain or lose from Trump’s absence?

Trump still remains a dominant force in the Republican Party, but his decision to miss another debate could raise questions about whether this is a wise move. A recent Messenger/Harris poll conducted in September showed that the conservative base is divided on whether Trump should participate in the debates. About 51 percent of voters disapproved of his absence from the second debate while 49 percent approved. Despite these numbers, 43 percent indicated that they were more likely to vote for the former president after the second debate. 


Even further, Trump’s team has called for all future debates to be canceled, urging the Republican National Committee to “refocus its manpower and money” on defeating Democrats.

The former president’s continued absence from the debate stage will create a vacuum, which could once again allow other candidates to seize the limelight. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley are considered to be strong contenders for the GOP nod. Without Trump on the stage, it means these contenders, along with others, will have another chance to make their case to voters.

Still, it is worth noting that in the first two debates, none of the candidates managed to make a splash that boosted them in the polling numbers. Trump still enjoys a huge lead over the rest of the field. According to the least RealClearPolitics average, the former president has 59.1 percent support, giving him a 46.6-point lead over DeSantis, who remains in second place at 12.8 percent. Trump is also dominating the field in Iowa and New Hampshire. What is also noteworthy is that in a general election match-up, Trump narrowly defeats President Joe Biden, 45 percent to 44.4 percent.


Perhaps Trump’s banking on his lead in the polling is not as ill-considered as it might seem – at least for the time being. But I still maintain that he cannot afford to continue ducking the debates, especially when the field narrows as more people drop out. At some point, he is going to have to respond to scrutiny over some of his more controversial issues – including his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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