Former President Donald Trump is again being rewarded for defiling the primary process that is essential for voters to make an informed decision about who should be the next Republican Party presidential nominee.
Yet again, his campaign is indicating that the former president will not participate in the next Republican Primary debate at the end of this month.
The reasoning that the Trump Campaign has proffered for their refusal to participate in the basic process that the GOP has outlined for its candidates to compete for the presidential nomination (that the Republican National Committee is absurdly allowing the frontrunner to skirt) is because Trump is so far ahead of the other candidates.
Interestingly, it’s the exact same (equally corrupt) reasoning behind why President Joe Biden simply refuses to debate either Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., or Marianne Williamson in the Democratic Party Presidential Primary.
The Ancients Won’t Fight
In this case, the two ancient presidents, Trump and Biden, are exactly the same.
Too afraid to debate lest they be viewed as weak. Too far ahead in the polls for it to really matter.
It should be noted, however, that, even though Trump remains ahead in the polls by double-digits, the former president did lose six percentage points in polling following the first GOP debate in which Trump refused to participate.
Of course, Trump did some novel counter-programming in the form of appearing on Tucker Carlson’s highly rated show on X, formerly Twitter, at the same time as the first GOP debate.
At this rate, the former president is assumed to do something similar.
Only the Tucker Carlson trick can only be employed once and it already has. So, Trump will have to find some other way to steal the limelight from the other Republican challengers.
Some have speculated that Trump might opt to do one of his signature rallies. It should be noted that this was precisely what the former president did in 2016, when he chose to skip one of the GOP Primary debates.
While the rally was heavily viewed, it actually hurt him in the polls (which is why he did not skip another primary debate that cycle and likely why it ended up not being a fatal mistake).
A Risk Like No Other: Being Ignored
By removing himself from the debate stage, Donald Trump is allowing for his competition to again be painted in a positive light (outside of how the other candidates will attack them on the debate stage, although this is far less important than how Trump would attack them if he were on the stage).
It remains to be seen if, in fact, Trump will entirely extricate himself from the second debate—especially without the promise of the ratings bonanza that was his interview with Tucker Carlson.
Unlike in 2016, when even the mainstream media which hated Trump to his core yet still couldn’t help but to cover his every movement, the mainstream media has made a conscious effort to minimize its coverage of his freewheeling, stream-of-consciousness rallies.
This means that the Trump Campaign cannot simply assume that its counter-programming to the debates will dominate as Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson did.
Actually, the Tucker interview got about 8.9 million views than did the first GOP debate. At the same time, though, the way that the X algorithm counts views differs significantly from how Nielsen Ratings are recorded for television events, such as the Fox News debate.
It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. What is not in doubt, though, is that the Trump Campaign is up by double-digits over its next Republican competitor.
And that is the real problem facing all the other GOP candidates for president.
But, as noted earlier, the fact that Trump suffered a reduction in his polling numbers, no matter how marginal, because he didn’t appear on the GOP debate stage indicates a possible negative trend that, over time, could prove highly detrimental to the forty-fifth president’s reelection campaign.
That’s especially as the various criminal trials that the former president is being subjected to get underway.
It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over and It Ain’t Over, Pal
What’s more, as (and I can’t believe that this accurate, but it is) noted Trump insider, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times explained last week that the Trump Campaign, despite its braggadocio, is fearful that its high poll numbers will come down.
The concern among the Donald Trump team is that most voters, even Republican voters, are not yet paying close enough attention to the daily hurly-burly of the race because it is still too early.
Historically, after Labor Day is when people start to pay more attention to elections. However, it is really the closer one moves to election day that people really become focused on a given election.
In this case, voting in the first Republican primary, in Iowa, is slated to begin mid-January 2024. So, all these early polls and the heavy fixation by the media on polling numbers might be irrelevant.
History Says Donald Trump Should Be Careful
After all, at this stage in the 2008 GOP Primary, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson were seen as the most competitive candidates. The closer to voting, though, the more people pay attention. And the more likely it is that the race tightens up—making each appearance that Trump makes (or doesn’t make) very important.
Former President Trump should not take anything for granted nor should his rivals, like Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, think all is lost.
As Yogi Berra once mused, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
All candidates should keep their heads in the game and take nothing granted—even Donald Trump.
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 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 occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.