Donald Trump threw the prospect of Republican presidential debates into doubt Tuesday, saying he might not participate and complaining about moderators and venues.
“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,” Trump said on his Truth Social media site.
The Republican National Committee, which has been negotiating with the GOP presidential campaigns, has announced partial plans for two debates: August in Milwaukee and a later one at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif. No specific dates have been set.
In suggesting he might not attend, Trump said he has a big lead in polls and questioned why he would want to subject himself to “hostile NETWORKS” with “TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors” asking questions.
Trump ended his statement by noting that the publisher of The Washington Post newspaper is an officer with the Reagan library foundation and followed that with a single word: “NO!”
Republicans as a whole have questioned whether there will be general election debates in 2024, saying they will not participate if the Commission on Presidential Debates is involved.
Trump’s suggestion of a debate boycott could be a diversionary tactic. He posted his protest during the opening day of a defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who has accused the former president of rape.
Trump has a history of threatening to skip debates – and sometimes of following through.
In early 2016, the then-businessman said he would not attend an Iowa debate because Fox News and anchor Megyn Kelly were biased against him. And he indeed skipped that event.
In 2019, Trump suggested he might skip the 2020 presidential debates because of complaints about the debate commission. He wound up debating Joe Biden twice.
This time around, opponents of the former president said he is laying the groundwork to avoid debating opponents.
An organization called Republicans Against Trumpism tweeted: “‘Alpha male’ Donnie is scared of debates. Coward.”