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Donald Trump Is a ‘Chaos Bomb’

President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at an "An Address to Young Americans" event hosted by Students for Trump and Turning Point Action at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Please attribute to Gage Skidmore if used elsewhere. By Gage Skidmore.
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at an "An Address to Young Americans" event hosted by Students for Trump and Turning Point Action at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Please attribute to Gage Skidmore if used elsewhere. By Gage Skidmore.

Back a few days ago, the forty-fifth president of the United States officially qualified under the standards of the Republican Party’s primary rules for the 2024 Presidential Election. 

Yet, the forty-fifth president—the current frontrunner of the GOP pack—has indicated that he might not attend the debate scheduled for August 23. The GOP has given each candidate who qualifies to be on the debate stage a forty-eight-hour window when they can determine whether they will present themselves at the debate or not.

One can anticipate that Trump, the master of grabbing headlines, will play on this deadline for the next several weeks. He will use this as an excuse to generate buzz about his campaign and sow dissension. 

Trump has proven that he can use such division and rancor to his advantage—especially in the visceral GOP primary.

A Chaos Bomb: Donald Trump Wants the Spotlight

Certainly, Trump, the star of the greatest show on Earth (which he created), will never pass up an opportunity to be on stage. 

He’s just going to make the world anxiously await his decision.

This will have the intended effect of diminishing the spotlight for his rivals—notably Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis—while enhancing his own standing in the limelight.

When the debate begins, you will have a multitude of candidates, including Donald J. Trump. 

But the candidates on stage, squaring off against Trump should be careful what they wish for. 

As even RFK, Jr., has noted, Trump is “probably the most successful debater” of our lifetime.

It’s not because Trump has mastered the esoteric rules and wonkish tactics of academic debate. He’s not the apotheosis of the Lincoln-Douglas debate format. 

Far from it. 

Instead, Trump is a gut player who packs quite a rhetorical wallop.

Few candidates will be able to withstand his barrage of rapid-fire insults and pithy, often mean-spirited responses.

Rumor has it that Governor DeSantis, still the only significant challenger to Trump for the GOP nomination, despite his recent decline in several polls, plans on spending most of the debate attacking his other Republican challengers.

This is a horrible plan that only the most ignorant Republican Party campaign “strategists” could craft. Trump’s presence offers all the other candidates—especially DeSantis—a singular opportunity to distinguish themselves apart from the notorious frontrunner and to possibly diminish his standing at least in some quarters in the Republican electorate.

The best possible thing for Trump would be for him to show up surrounded by media buzz and then stand apart from the other “Keebler Elves” while they viciously tear each other down, giving Trump a pristine opportunity to actually appear presidential compared to the other warring parties on stage.

DeSantis Needs to Target Trump

For DeSantis, if he cannot score at least one memorable moment against the former president that goes viral, his days as a viable candidate in 2024 are well-and-truly numbered. 

If DeSantis wastes his time evading Trump and fixating on Ramaswamy or Nikki Haley, he will have achieved nothing.

DeSantis could even fail to restore his clear second-place status in the polls (Vivek Ramaswamy has tied with DeSantis in recent polls).

Fear of Trump and an unwillingness to decisively highlight the differences between himself and Trump is one main reason—among others, like focusing too much on Twitter wars and hiring antisemites—that DeSantis, the most promising GOP candidate since Ronald Reagan, is struggling.

Each candidate will need to distinguish themselves in the GOP primary. 

The first debate, for many of them, will be their only chance to do so. Unless there is an extenuating circumstance related to the various legal woes that Trump is currently experiencing, I’d expect Trump to make a big show of not coming and then decide to appear. 

It’s free media and the likelihood of him standing apart from the others is high. 

Donald Trump Must Show Up

Trump needs the debate as much as any of the others do.

If he doesn’t show up, he’ll be lambasted. Some might even waver on him. Plus, it allows for the other candidates to have a chance to share with Republican voters their vision unvarnished by Trump’s disruptive presence on stage. 

That, over time, could harm Trump politically.

Besides, Trump tried skipping debates once before in the 2016 Campaign. 

While he did ultimately win that primary, his refusal to show up to one of the debates was not the reason why he won. 

In fact, each debate performance he gave was so unique and memorable that they ensured he’d be the nominee. 

President Trump should remember that fact and show up. Plus, Trump cannot be seen as taking the GOP nomination for granted or afford to be viewed as acting with a sense of entitlement. He does have a massive amount of GOP support. 

But his appeal comes from the fact that, despite being a billionaire, he comes across as an everyman. That image might be tarnished if he pretends like he’s above it all. 

There’s really no downside if Trump shows up to the first GOP debate.

A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

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Written By

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who recently became a writer for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

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