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HomeWorldGOP presidential candidates to debate 'with or without Trump'

GOP presidential candidates to debate ‘with or without Trump’

Former US President Donald Trump has decided to skip the Republican primary debate next weekend at Milwaukee even as eight others in the field led by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have opted to go ahead with the debate — Trump or no Trump.

Skipping the debate, Trump instead plans to sit for an online interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, media reports including the New York Times reported, citing people in the know.

For months, Trump has been suggesting that he would rather give a pass to debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, arguing  it made no sense to give others a chance to attack him given his sizable lead among Republicans in national polls.

Fox News, once a great ally of Trump that has turned on him and picked Florida Governor Ron Desantis as its horse to back on, has come under fire from Trump for its recent coverage of events such as his indictments on the Georgia election issue, reports said.

Trump’s absence in the debate means that his closest rival Ron DeSantis will take the fuselage of attacks from other candidates who want to position themselves as the primary alternative to the former president. 

Political analysts say that it’s been a good eight long years since a Republican took to stage alongside Trump and if the former president sticks to past declarations – and listens to recommendations of top advisers – the current crop of contenders will have to continue to wait for a turn, CNN said in a report. .

Multiple sources familiar with Trump’s plans told CNN he was planning to give  the debate a go by, instead sitting for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. 

Trump’s advisers, who advised him to cancel his scheduled press conference earlier this week, claimed Trump could ultimately change his mind and decide at the 11th hour to attend the debate.

As Trump’s showmanship and aggression in debates is well known as he is given to pounding his opponents insulting moderators, goading opponents into schoolyard fights, rivals have been forced to coach themselves against possible scenarios to face the onslaught of Trump wounded by four indictments in the Georgia case and other legal woes. 

Trump’s legal troubles mounting by the day and his still fixation on the 2020 elections as a stolen one are likely to dominate his mindset on the debates whether or not he shows up, but the opponents are sure to rake it up to gain brownie points. 

Trump has time until next Friday, two days after the debate,  to voluntarily surrender on charges related to the fourth indictment he faces.That of the Fulton County jury that has indicted him under the RICO act (Rackteer Influenced Corrupt Organisations Act), a legal provision generally used against mobsters and narcos.

“Probably the number 1 goal of these candidates on the debate stage is practicing the art of pivoting and shifting the conversation to what voters are really concerned about. They are not concerned about the grievances of the past,” said GOP communications strategist Alice Stewart, a veteran of several past presidential campaigns and a CNN political contributor.

In addition to Trump, DeSantis, Pence and Scott, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum all appear to have reached the donor and polling thresholds to make the stage. 

The RNC is also requiring candidates sign a loyalty pledge to participate. Trump has not signed it. Christie has met the polling and donor thresholds to attend the debate but has yet to sign the RNC pledge, CNN reported.

Many of the Republican hopefuls have gone into records of their rivals – particularly how DeSantis governed in Florida and voted in Congress – as they dig themselves into the first of the great debates of presidential hopefuls hoping to find a breakout moment for themselves next week end at Milwaukee in Wisconsin.

Ukraine funding, abortion bans and job creation are subject on which candidates will air their difference of opinion. However, there is a chance that there’s likely to be more agreement than disagreement expressed onstage, despite a rising sense of urgency shake up the field, reports said.

Fox News, hosting the debate, claims through a poll that Trump holds the cards with a clear 53 per cent lead over his candidates and his nearest challenger Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is at second place with only 16 per cent Republican voters backing him. Indian American Vivek Ramaswamy is the only other among eight of the candidates to crack double digits, at 11 per cent.

Ramaswamy , who offered to be Trumps legal defense as the amicus curiae after his fourth indictment, is xpected to the former president in the debate if attacked by the former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie.

“I’ve got a very simple debate strategy,” Christie told CNN on Friday. 

“I’ll listen to the questions, answer them directly and honestly. And if someone up there says something that I believe is dishonest, to call them out on it. That’s it.”

In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for Ramaswamy responded to the Times story by saying that the candidate will “introduce himself and his vision” at Wednesday’s debate and “these boring, canned attack lines from a robotic candidate doesn’t change that”.

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