Trump Announces He Will Not Participate In The Republican Primary Debates
BEDMINSTER, NJ - AUGUST 09: Former President Donald Trump in his cart going to the 14th green during a practice round at Trump National Golf Club on August 9, 2023 in Bedminster, New Jersey
Rich Graessle / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he will not participate in the Republican Party presidential primary debates.

Trump cited a CBS News poll that showed him at 62%, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 16%, and everyone else in the low single digits to explain why he did not plan to make a showing at the debates.

He added that he believes that voters already know who he is and concluded by stating: “I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!”

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said earlier in the day that she is “still holding out hope that [former] President Trump will come” because it’s “so important that the American people hear from all the candidates.”

DeSantis slammed Trump last week for refusing to commit to showing up to the debate, noting correctly that the majority of Trump’s attacks have been directed at him, adding: “And then the other candidates, a lot of them don’t really say much about Donald Trump, and they — they focus more on me.”

“So, if you already had it in the bag, you would not worry about any other candidate,” he continued. “I have been in races where I had it in the bag. I was not out there attacking people that I was 40 or 50 points ahead of. So, he owes it to people to go up there and debate.”

DeSantis said that one of the main reasons Trump does not want to debate is because he does not want to have to defend his record in terms of some of the things that he promised to do while campaigning in 2016, but later failed to do.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hit Trump hard last week over the issue, writing on social media: “Surprise, surprise … the guy who is out on bail from four jurisdictions and can’t defend his reprehensible conduct, is running scared and hiding from the debate stage. Trump — certified loser, verified coward.”

Former President Mike Pence said on Sunday that Trump often makes up his mind at the last moment and he hopes that Trump will show up.

After saying a few months ago that his “expectation” was that Trump will show up, Vivek Ramaswamy said he now has no issue with the former president skipping it.

“It is my expectation Trump will be there because as I’ve known him he’s not a man that I know of to be afraid. He’s not somebody who’s made a habit of himself to be a coward,” Ramaswamy said in May. “But if he doesn’t show up on that debate stage, that will be the best proof that the Donald Trump of today is not the same Donald Trump as in 2016.”

Ramaswamy has now changed his stance, saying he has “no problem” with Trump “skipping the first” few debates and that it’s “fine” if he does not show up.

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