Donald Trump taunts primary competitors with vice president challenge

August 1, 2023
Matthew Boose

Donald Trump flaunted his dominant lead in the 2024 Republican primary, taunting his challengers to audition for the chance to be his running mate.

"Let them debate so I can see who I MIGHT consider for Vice President!" Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social.

Trump's post is the latest signal that he may skip one or more primary debates, which begin this month in Milwaukee.

Trump taunts challengers

Besides Trump, the only candidates to qualify for the first debate are Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, and Doug Burgum, who relied on a gift card gimmick in order to qualify.

Trump's former vice president Mike Pence has yet to qualify for the debate, a shocking sign of how unpopular he has become since his falling out with Trump.

Trump has argued it would be self-defeating to attend the debates given his strong lead. A new poll has Trump with a formidable 37-point advantage over his closest challenger, DeSantis, who registered just 17 points.

Despite his widely recognized skill as a debater, Trump has a long history of threatening to skip debates, often citing concerns about fairness.

The first August 23 debate in Milwaukee is being hosted by Fox News. Trump has accused Fox - which opposed Trump during the 2016 Republican primary, leading him to boycott some of the network's debates - of showing favor to DeSantis this time around.

Trump dominates

Trump conducted a straw poll at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania over the weekend where he asked supporters if he should attend the first debate. The crowd shouted "no."

"Am I going to stand up there by guys with 0, 1, 2, 3 percent, maybe 4, and have them ask me hostile questions?” he said Saturday.

“Should I get up there with 10 or 12 hostile people and a hostile network and be abused with terrible questions?” Trump asked.

Who Trump might pick to be his running mate is anyone's guess. But one name that is definitely off the list - DeSantis. It's hard to see how the two could unite after the bitter feud between them, which is dividing the Republican party.

Of course, Trump's challengers have all said he should debate - but they aren't running almost 40 points ahead like Trump. At the end of the day, they can't force the frontrunner to show up.

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