Trump will skip first GOP debate for Tucker Carlson interview, but RNC has sanctioned surrogates

August 19, 2023
Jen Krausz

Former President Donald Trump has officially said he won't attend the first GOP debate in Milwaukee next week, but will instead sit down with Tucker Carlson for an interview to be released at the same time as the debate while the RNC allows surrogates for Trump to speak for him on panels at the debate. 

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman reported Friday that Trump is definitely skipping the initial GOP debate because of his high polling numbers.

Trump has a more than 30-point lead in most GOP primary polls, with his closest rival Florida Governor Ron DeSantis losing ground since declaring his candidacy in May amid four left-wing Trump criminal indictments.

The indictments of Trump have seemed to bolster his support, according to polls.

Too much favor

Most Republicans, even if they don't support a Trump candidacy, consider the indictments a political ploy to hurt Trump's chances of being elected in 2024, and many have come around to support him because of those feelings.

It seems that Trump will be the party's nominee and face incumbent President Joe Biden, who is facing his own corruption allegations by House Republicans, in the general election.

As for the debate, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel is receiving criticism for her personal invitation of Trump surrogate Rep. Byron Donalds to be on a panel at the debate to give Trump talking points.

McDaniel is a Trump ally, but critics of her plan say she shouldn't be giving Trump a voice through Donalds at the debate if he's choosing not to be there.

Rigging the process

Red State's Ponchie said of the plan: "That feels way too much like trying to rig the process, in my opinion. Did any other candidate get the offer to not show up and not sign the loyalty pledge but still be represented during the event? It's the kind of special treatment that Trump supporters (including me) would have never accepted during the 2016 cycle had it been done in favor of someone like Jeb Bush."

Speaking of the GOP loyalty pledge--the RNC wants all candidates to say they'll eventually back whoever gets the nomination--Trump isn't on board with that, either.

McDaniel's insistence on candidates signing it may be part of the reason he decided to skip the debate.

As the frontrunner by a mile, he is afforded the right to make different decisions than other candidates, but why else wouldn't Trump want to take the opportunity to wipe the floor with his rivals?

Bad precedent

He's also setting a bad precedent for incumbent Biden to bow out of any debates with Trump later in the process, which could hurt either one of them in the general election but would probably help Biden to continue to camouflage his mental decline.

It seems that eventually, Trump will have to speak up and articulate his plans for a second term, but for now, he's getting away with resting on his laurels a bit.

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