Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said this week that it is important for the GOP 2024 candidates, including former President Donald Trump, to participate in the party’s debates to prepare themselves for an eventual showdown with Democratic President Joe Biden in the general election.
Although the former president met the RNC qualifications to take part in the first debate stage with eight other candidates Wednesday night, he opted to skip the event and instead sat for an interview on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, with Tucker Carlson.
“I think it’s important that we talk to the American people, and I believe the general election starts now, as we contrast our party with Joe Biden even while we’re competing to receive that nomination for our primary,” McDaniel told Politico the day before the debate on Tuesday. “I really do hope that it’s a policy-driven debate and that these candidates have a chance to show who they are and what they stand for on huge issues that we have facing our country.”
In a nationally televised interview on Thursday, she addressed Trump’s absence from the first debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and reiterated the importance of participating in future debates before the general election.
“I understand the strategy his campaign is putting forward. They’re saying, you know, we’re up so much, why should we risk being on the debate stage,” the Washington Examiner reported her telling Fox News Thursday. “I do want to see him on the debate stage. I have said this a lot,” she added. “I don’t think it’s just about the primary. If he does end up being the nominee, we need [to] make sure Biden gets on the debate stage, and we also take this time to get in front of independent voters and the American people to contrast what our party stands for versus what Biden is doing.”
During his interview on X, Trump said he decided not to attend the debate because of his huge lead in the GOP polls.
“The polls have come out, and I’m leading by 50 and 60 [percentage] points,” Trump said. “Do I sit there for one or two hours, whatever it’s going to be, and get harassed by people who shouldn’t even be running for president?”
The Examiner reported that the next GOP primary debate is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. To participate, candidates need to have reached 3% support in two different national polls or 3% in one national poll combined with 3% in two early primary or caucus state polls, and to have raised money from 50,000 unique donors.
Charles Kim ✉
Charles Kim, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in reporting on news and politics.
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