Trump Doesn’t Need Debate Until His GOP Rivals ‘Show They Belong Even on the Same Stage,’ Advisor Says

Dorothy Li
By Dorothy Li
September 7, 20232024 Elections
Trump Doesn’t Need Debate Until His GOP Rivals ‘Show They Belong Even on the Same Stage,’ Advisor Says
Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump prepares to deliver remarks in Las Vegas on July 8, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Jason Miller, a senior advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, said he doesn’t think the former president needs to debate “right now.”

“I think he’s in the driver’s seat,” Mr. Miller told Newsnation’s “The Hill” aired on Wednesday. Until some of his Republican rivals “actually show that they belong even on the same stage as him, then I would say he doesn’t need to,” he said.

Mr. Miller highlighted President Trump’s commanding—and growing lead—over his GOP presidential rivals in recent polls.

Nearly six out of 10, 59 percent, national Republican primary voters say the former president is their first choice, followed by 13 percent who would pick Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to a recent Wall Street Journal poll (pdf). No one else in the crowded field of 13 candidates got more than 8 percent support, with half not reaching 2 percent.

The survey was conducted Aug. 24–30, beginning the day when President Trump surrendered himself to authorities at the Fulton County jail on charges related to his alleged efforts to dispute Georgia’s 2020 election results. The case marked the fourth criminal case the former command-in-chief is facing.

Despite these indictments, the former president’s lead over Mr. DeSantis has nearly doubled since April’s poll conducted by the publication, when 48 percent viewed President Trump as the top choice versus 24 percent who selected Mr. DeSantis.

Trump Hints Possibility of Attending Alabama Debate

President Trump also cited his overwhelming lead in polls as part of the reason to skip the first GOP primary debate, held in Milwaukee on Aug. 28.

“New CBS POLL, just out, has me leading the field by “legendary” numbers,” he wrote on Truth Social. “The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more.”


Jason Miller
Jason Miller, a strategic advisor for Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to members of the media in the spin room following the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis., on Aug. 23, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Republican front-runner is expected to skip the second one as well, which is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. But he doesn’t rule out the possibility of joining his Republican rivals on stage if they gathered in Alabama.

“I’ll make that decision. I would love to go to anything involved with Alabama,” President Trump said during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt that aired on Wednesday.

Reports suggested the third debate is likely to be held at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. But so far, there has been no official announcement.

Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor and current GOP presidential contender, also predicted President Trump’s presence in the potential contest.

“I would keep my eye on the debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in October,” he said during an interview with MSNBC that broadcast on Aug. 29. “He may show up to Alabama.”

Asked about the possibility of President Trump’s attendance in future debates, Mr. Miller said, “President Trump has said that he’s not going to be doing the debates, and I would take that at face value until he says something differently.”

NTD Photo
With the exception of former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican presidential candidates (3rd L-R) former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum raise their hands to say they would support Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee during the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis., on Aug. 23, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

‘The Elephant Not in the Room’

Despite President Trump’s absence, the first showdown of Republican presidential hopefuls inevitably turned to the topic of him, with Fox News co-host Bret Baier introducing the former president as “the elephant not in the room.”

Mr. Baier asked the candidates to raise their hands if they would support President Trump as the party’s candidate if he was convicted in a court of law as part of one of the four cases against him.

Six of the eight candidates raised their hands. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Mr. Christie opted out.

“Here’s the bottom line. Someone’s got to stop normalizing this conduct,” Mr. Christie said, prompting boos from the audience that “the conduct is beneath the office of the president of the United States.”

Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy raised his hand to respond. “Let’s just speak the truth,” Mr. Ramaswamy said. “President Trump, I believe, was the best president of the 21st century. It’s a fact.”

“And Chris Christie, honest to God, your claim that Donald Trump is motivated by vengeance and grievance would be a lot more credible if your entire campaign were not based on vengeance and grievance against one man,” Mr. Ramaswamy said, earning cheers from the crowd.

NTD Photo
An illustration photo of a preview of Tucker Carlson’s interview of former President Donald Trump scheduled to air on X (formerly Twitter) on the same night of the first Republican Presidential primary debate in Milwaukee, Wis., on a smartphone ahead of the debate on Aug. 23, 2023. (Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

While the eight candidates were debating, a pre-recorded video interview between former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and President Trump was released on Twitter, racking up nearly 200 million views on the platform.

“Do I sit there for an hour or two hours, whatever it’s going to be, and get harassed by people that shouldn’t even be running for president? Should I be doing that at a network that isn’t particularly friendly to me?” the former president told Mr. Carlson about why he wasn’t attending the debate.

Ivan Pentchoukov and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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