Donald Trump: Will He Debate? The Republican field for 2024 is set, with about a dozen candidates, and the polls have shown certain candidates doing much better than others.
Now it is almost time to start debating.
Donald Trump Might Skip the Debate
The first Republican presidential debate is set for August 23 in Milwaukee, and according to the Republican National Committee, six candidates have qualified to participate so far: Former President Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Ambassador Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, former Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Tim Scott. That’s according to Politico’s analysis of the RNC’s criteria.
Donald Trump was upfront in a Fox News interview over the weekend, stating that his huge lead might preclude him from showing up for the debate.
“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,” Trump said on Fox, per Politico.
All of the non-Trump candidates are expected to participate in the debate.
The RNC also requires all who participate in debates to agree to support the eventual nominee, while also pledging to not participate in unsanctioned debates. Christie has said he will not support Trump, and Trump has also indicated that he would not necessarily back a different nominee, depending on who it is.
Missing from the list of qualified candidates, so far, is former Vice President Mike Pence. Per Politico, he has met the polling threshold, but not the individual donor threshold, although he could reach it prior to the debate date, a little less than a month from now.
The former vice president vowed to eventually qualify.
“We will qualify. Getting 40,000 donors in just a few short weeks is a challenge,” Pence said on “Fox and Friends,” per Politico. “We’re not offering gift cards, not offering kickbacks or tickets to soccer games, just traveling.”
According to Politico’s spreadsheet, Gov. Doug Burgum has met the fundraising threshold, but not the polling one. A few other candidates — talk show host Larry Elder, former Rep. Will Hurd, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson, businessman Perry Johnson, and Mayor Francis Suarez — qualified for neither.
Meanwhile, the Democrats will not have debates in the current cycle, with the Democratic National Committee openly endorsing President Biden for re-election.
Robert Kennedy, Jr., the anti-vaccine activist and conspiracy theorist, is Biden’s most prominent opponent, and the Biden campaign has brushed off calls for him to debate Kennedy or Marianne Williamson, who is also running as a Democrat.
“Biden should not debate them,” Jim Kessler, of the Third Way group, told The Hill in June. “They are both gadflies who have done nothing to earn the right to debate a sitting president in an otherwise uncontested primary… You have to earn your way to the debate stage… These folks are light years short of that.”
Kennedy has in recent weeks drawn fire for claims he made that COVID-19 was “ethnically targeted.”
“COVID-19. There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” Kennedy said at a dinner, in comments caught on video by the New York Post. “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
In addition to lining up with ancient antisemitic conspiracy theories, the statement is ludicrously false, as massive numbers of Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people both obtained and died of COVID-19.
Kennedy later claimed that he was taken out of context (he was not), that the dinner was off the record (it was not), and that he can’t possibly be an antisemitic because has long supported Israel and is supported by the rabbi and political gadfly Shmuley Boteach.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.