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Trump to skip 3rd GOP debate in Miami, hold rival rally across the road

Former US President Donald Trump will skip the third GOP Presidential primaries debate, and instead hold a rival rally up the road in the Miami arena holding on to his view the “worthlessness” of participating in a debate when he is “miles ahead of the eight contestants”.

Trump not only took the Republican National Committee (RNC) off guard with his announcement, but also threw wide open to the public, essentially the voters, the rift between him and the GOP elders on who should be selected the nominee for the 2024 presidential race, media reports said. 

Trump’s decision to skip next month’s third GOP presidential primary debate and instead hold a rival rally just up the road highlights how complicated – and at times thorny – the relationship between the Republican National Committee and the front-runner’s team has become, CNN said in a report.

The RNC was caught off guard when Trump’s campaign announced last week that it would hold a counterprogramming event the same night as the debate, just down the road from the Miami arena where other Republican candidates would be facing off.

While Trump has not attended any of the debates, citing his commanding lead in the polls, the decision to host what appears to be a competing event in the same area has rubbed some Republicans the wrong way, reports said.

“It’s a slap on the face [of the RNC],” one Republican operative with ties to the committee told CNN.

Allies close to Trump attempted to justify the decision, pointing to his public frustration that the RNC is continuing to hold debates despite the wide margin he has over the rest of the field.

Trump’s top campaign advisers called on the RNC to “immediately cancel the upcoming debate in Miami and end all future debates in order to refocus its manpower and money” on defeating the Democrats in 2024.

But even before the debates took centre stage, Trump’s relationship with the organisation, led by his own hand-picked chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, became increasingly tumultuous in recent months. 

Trump harbours resentment against the RNC over the 2020 election denial by him by not providing him with proper attorneys in place to challenge the poll results, multiple sources told CNN.

The RNC leaders have tried unsuccessfully to convince Trump that it was not their responsibility to select the attorneys to represent him in the election denial case, both at the federal and district level in Georgia.

Instead, some other RNC leaders have blamed Trump for not having a better legal infrastructure in place for his 2020 campaign.

Trump has asked his allies and aides why the RNC must remain neutral in the 2024 GOP presidential primary race instead of endorsing him, who was the frontrunner in all the gallup polls.

The RNC has said that it is focused on presiding over the GOP primary in a fair way to all the candidates running for the Republican nomination for President, an RNC spokesman said in a statement. 

Trump appointed Ronna McDaniel as GOP chair since his becoming President in 2016 and replaced dozens of Republican committee members with his loyalists. He expected total loyalty from all his supporters, including McDaniel.

Most Republicans have targeted McDaniel for being in Trump’s orbit and for the poor selection of candidates that led to the Republicans’ underwhelming results in the 2022 midterms for the house. 

Trump’s Red Tsunami never happened and most of his candidates lost and the house returned with a fractured razor-thin majority for the Republicans 212 to 203.  

“There’s a general concern about Ronna and the RNC when it comes to the 2020 and 2022 elections,” a Trump ally said, adding that they saw mistakes with the party’s messaging strategy in seeking votes.

“There’s a lot of concern about her leading the party going forward,” the source pointed out.

Shortly after winning, McDaniel told Fox News that this would be her “last term as chair…It’s done.”

While it was too early to talk about organisational changes at the RNC, McDaniel should be willing to step aside if Trump is elected as the nominee for the 2024 presidential race, an RNC leader said.

“It’s not unusual for the nominee to make some changes at the RNC, and I imagine Trump will, but there is nothing planned,” one source close to the former President said, adding that McDaniel’s term would be over in a year-and-a-half anyway.

“There would be a new RNC chairman that I imagine Trump would be influential and in choosing just like he was influential with [McDaniel].”

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