The Republican National Committee will be forced to contend with the same old song and dance of former President Donald Trump who recently told advisors that he plans to skip the party’s third GOP debate set for later this year, a move intended to keep his distance from his low-polling rivals in the field.
Sources close to the 45th president told Bloomberg that, no matter the location of the third debate, President Trump would be skipping the affair as he did with the first debate in Milwaukee and plans to do with the second debate set to be held Sept. 27 at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The GOP frontrunner has for months bragged to his allies that he’s “up by too many points” and does not need to debate competitors who stand virtually no chance of upsetting his plans to take on President Joe Biden next year.
Earlier this week, President Trump announced his intent to speak in front of UAW workers currently on strike rather than attend the second debate. While union leaders have blasted the former president’s plans, the move is smart politics: without Trump on the debate stage, Fox News saw a dismal drop in viewership while his competing interview with Tucker Carlson outpaced the once-conservative network. His speech in Michigan, a key swing state, will likely lift Trump in a state he won in 2016 and provided a crucial boost over Hillary Clinton.
The RNC announced its third debate will be held in Miami, a change from the previous proposal to hold the event in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in hopes the location would compel President Trump to participate. The Republican currently enjoys a +28 polling advantage there over President Biden. An advisor to the former president said their campaign did not have any say in the RNC’s decision to select Miami.
Despite four criminal indictments and considerably fewer campaign stops than his rivals, President Trump has enjoyed upwards of 60 percent support in some polls of GOP primary voters, causing his closest rivals like Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis to vie for a far-behind second place. With primary elections in Iowa and New Hampshire fast approaching, time is not on the side of also-rans, some of whom are still fighting to qualify for the second debate stage.