President Trump is reportedly considering skipping the first two Republican presidential primary debates in 2024. According to a recent New York Times report citing several anonymous sources familiar with Trump’s thinking, Trump believes his significant polling lead makes the debates unnecessary for his campaign at this point in the race.
The first GOP primary debate is scheduled for August 2024 and will be hosted by Fox News in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The second debate is planned for later in 2024 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. However, Trump has privately voiced issues with both the timing and hosts of the debates.
For the first Fox News-hosted debate, Trump reportedly said “Why would I have Bret Baier question me,” referring to the Fox News anchor who fact-checked Trump’s election fraud claims. Trump also mentioned his past disputes with former Fox News host Megyn Kelly as a reason to avoid a Fox-hosted debate.
Regarding the second debate at the Reagan Library, Trump has pointed out that the library’s board chairman is Frederick J. Ryan Jr., the publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, a newspaper that regularly publishes negative coverage of Trump.
Publicly, Trump has also criticized the debate schedule, writing on his social media platform Truth Social: “I see that everybody is talking about the Republican Debates, but nobody got my approval, or the approval of the Trump Campaign, before announcing them…Also, the Second Debate is being held at the Reagan Library, the Chairman of which is, amazingly, Fred Ryan, Publisher of The Washington Post. NO!”
While Trump’s campaign has not yet decided whether he will participate in the debates, some advisers think Trump may find it difficult to stay out of the national spotlight and avoid directly countering his potential 2024 opponents on stage. The debates were also an important part of Trump’s successful 2016 campaign, and he has credited them for his victories in both the primary and general election.