Fox News Hosts Unite to Push 'Unlikely to Participate' Trump to Show up for First GOP Debate

AP Photo/John Locher

Let’s just get to the down and dirty, then proceed with the details.

Former President Donald Trump has suggested on multiple occasions that because of his current commanding lead in Republican-only polls over other GOP candidates, he sees no reason to participate in the party’s presidential primary debates.


On the other hand, the argument is strong that Republican voters deserve to see all viable candidates go head-to-head in the debates to see how each performs, which would afford voters the opportunity to make the best decision in the upcoming primaries.

The down-and-dirty bottom line:

According to at least one Trump advisor, the former president is “highly unlikely to participate,” which comes as zero surprise, given Trump’s prior statements. As my colleague Bob Hoge reported in mid-July, Trump appeared on “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo and strongly suggested he won’t participate in any of the Republican National Committee’s presidential debates.

Trump flatly said:

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. And we have a lead of 50 and 60 points in some cases and some of these people are at zero. 

It should be noted that Ronald Reagan and “a lot of other people” were incumbents seeking second terms, as opposed to former presidents running in open fields. Trump then took a shot at challenger Ron DeSantis, as he is wont to do, in quintessential Trumpian fashion:

Ron DeSanctis, as I call him, or DeSanctimonious, is down to … He’s in the teens now and I’m at 50 and 60 and 65. And even 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?

Why would you let somebody that’s at zero, or one or two or three, you know, be popping you with questions?


The answer to Trump’s question is at least twofold:

First, presidential debates are held for voters, not individual candidates, as I suggested, earlier. Second, it seems to me — and I’m hardly the Lone Ranger — that presidential candidates who are confident that they possess the best policies and opportunities to deliver to their respective parties should be more than willing to prove it, head-to-head, against all potentially viable candidates, which is why the RNC has established minimum qualification requirements.

Fox News hosts Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, John Roberts, and Fox Nation host Piers Morgan apparently agree with my assessment. All are in agreement that Trump should indeed participate in the first presidential debate, which is scheduled to be held in Milwaukee on August 23, and broadcast by Fox.

The co-hosts of “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning urged Trump to show up for the debate, with Doocy saying:

It would be great to see President Trump and Ron DeSantis and Chris Christie just duke it out. That’s why they call it a debate. … Show up, debate, and shine. This is his big chance.

Kilmeade argued that Trump’s participation would prepare him for the general election debates against Joe Biden.

If he thinks he’s going to get the nomination, the best thing to do is to go into training. … So, I would take the reps as much as possible.

Also on Monday, Fox News anchors John Roberts and Sandra Smith agreed that Trump’s participation in the debate is vital to “the democratic process.” Said Roberts:


It’s the democratic process. You want voters to get a look at all the candidates, and if you want to prove that you are the candidate that they should vote for, well, then let’s see how you react to the questions that are being asked.

“Certainly an important part of the process for sure,” Smith responded.

And Morgan was more than enthusiastic, appealing to Trump’s competitive nature:

If you’re watching, Donald, come on! Get on that stage and show us what you’re made of. If you want to be president again, you’ve got to come out and face the debate music. … You know you want to secretly.

But does he? Does Trump “secretly” want to participate? If not, why not? Lack of confidence? Fear of “losing” or being out-debated? In this instance, I ask the questions and you answer, if you choose.

The Bottom Line

Whatever the answer, using the “Why should I debate when I’m so far ahead?” argument, assuming the aforementioned advisor was right and Trump doesn’t change his mind, ignores the wishes of a majority of voters heading into arguably the most important presidential election in modern history.


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