Former President Donald Trump does not appear to be too thrilled with the arranged debates for the Republican presidential nomination.
And it seems he may be prepared to skip some — again.
In a post on Truth Social on Tuesday, Trump wrote, “I see that everybody is talking about the Republican Debates, but nobody got my approval, or the approval of the Trump Campaign, before announcing them.”
“When you’re leading by seemingly insurmountable numbers, and you have hostile Networks with angry, TRUMP [and] MAGA hating anchors asking the ‘questions,’ why subject yourself to being libeled and abused?” he asked.
He added, “Also, the Second Debate is being held at the Reagan Library, the Chairman of which is, amazingly, Fred Ryan, Publisher of The Washington Post. NO!”
Just because Trump looks like the front-runner does not mean he should have some outsized say in the debate process.
If Trump wants to skip them, he can. It would not be unprecedented for him. He did it in 2016 and it worked out just fine for him.
And the trend of skipping debates appeared to take off during the 2022 election season. Several Republican candidates declined to debate their opponents. Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) avoided a debate with Republican Kari Lake and won her election.
It would be understandable that Trump might want to skip debates where he would have to stand there and listen to members of his own party criticize him and his record.
And overall, they feel less like a debate and more like each person just stating their policy views that anyone can read online or hear at a campaign speech, which raises questions about how useful they actually are.
Still, the former president also has insisted he won every debate he participated in during the 2016 cycle.
They could, in theory, give him a chance to exert his dominance over the field and the conversation as he did in 2016 — though there is the risk he could go too far as he did in the first 2020 debate with President Joe Biden.
And as Trump will be 78 in 2024, the debates could give him a chance to show voters he has not lost a step or is too old for the job.
Additionally, if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) does join the race, the debates could give Trump the opportunity to rhetorically pummel him on live TV and try to strip the veneer off his candidacy.
Not attending would give the Florida governor and other candidates a chance to make their case to viewers without having to fret about how to deal with the former president.
As is typical with Trump, no matter how serious he is, we’ll probably see more comments like this one trying to create suspense about whether or not he will show up to the debates.