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Trump Hints at What He Might Do Instead of Attending Fox News’ First GOP Presidential Debate

Former President Donald Trump hinted that he might do a one-on-one sitdown interview with Tucker Carlson rather than participate in the first Republican presidential primary debate on Aug. 23. Trump responded to the prospect Sunday on Truth Social, writing, “Interesting? So many people have suggested this!” This month, Carlson moderated the first GOP presidential forum of the primary season in Iowa, interviewing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Trump skipped that event, citing a scheduling conflict, according to Politico. In a recent interview, the former president told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that he had not made a decision about whether he will participate in the GOP debate. “Well you know, it’s quite an easy question normally. Ronald Reagan didn’t do it and a lot of other people didn’t do it. When you have a big lead, you don’t do it,” Trump said. “We have a lead of 50 and 60 points in some cases,” he continued. “You’re leading people by 50 and 60 points, you say why would you be doing a debate? It’s actually not fair. Why would you let somebody that’s at zero or one or two or three be popping you with questions?” Bartiromo followed up, “Do you see any risk that if you don’t show up, Ron DeSantis has a good night and it cuts into your lead?” “Or somebody else has a good night and cuts into his lead, because that’s what’s happening. He’s going down and a couple of them are going up,” Trump responded. But he added regarding doing the debate, “I haven’t really made up my mind.” Politico reported Sunday that Trump, DeSantis, Haley, Ramaswamy, Scott and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have all met the Republican National Committee’s polling and fundraising criteria to participate in the first debate. Candidates must have 1 percent support in three national polls that meet the RNC methodological requirements and have 40,000 unique donors — with at least 200 unique donors from 20 or more states and territories. Pence garners the polling support but lacks the 40,000 unique donors. He promised on a Fox News interview last week that his campaign will meet that threshold in time. On Monday, Trump led the field of Republican candidates by more than 30 percentage points, according to the RealClear Politics average of polls. The 45th president had 51.8 percent support; while DeSantis garners 18.5 percent; Pence, 5.6 percent; Ramaswamy 5.5 percent; Haley, 3.5 percent; and Scott, 3.0 percent. [firefly_poll] It wouldn’t be the first time Trump has declined to participate in a primary debate. In January 2016, he skipped a Fox News-hosted GOP debate and instead held a rally in Iowa after the network refused his demand that Megyn Kelly be removed as a moderator. Trump felt that Kelly had been unfair to him during the first GOP presidential debate in August 2015 by asking about his treatment of women.
The Washington Post reported that the viewership for the debate without Trump dropped nearly in half from 24 million to 12.5 million. The former president’s one-on-one with Carlson presumably would stream on Twitter. Fox News fired Carlson in April, without providing a reason. In May, he announced he would be hosting an online program on Twitter. His shows have garnered millions of views each since first airing last month. According to a report in March, Carlson said in a January 2021 text message that he “hates” Trump “with a passion.” This month, however, the former Fox News host said in an interview with Russell Brand that he “loves” the former president, citing his policy on Ukraine. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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