Will Donald Trump make an appearance at the upcoming presidential debate next week?
His fellow Republican contenders are getting ready, assuming he’ll be there.
In Des Moines, Iowa, there’s a lot of buzz about whether Donald Trump will participate in the first 2024 GOP presidential debate. Even though he’s publicly said he won’t commit to the required pledge, other Republican candidates are actively preparing for the possibility that he will join them on stage.
Former Vice President Mike Pence is conducting mock debate sessions, where someone is portraying the character of Donald Trump.. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been diligently preparing for weeks, aiming to highlight the differences between himself and Trump. Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador, is planning to demonstrate her ability to stand up to tough situations.
Among the candidates, eight Republicans have met the fundraising and polling criteria set by the Republican National Committee to qualify for the debate, scheduled for August 23rd in Milwaukee and hosted by Fox News. Donald Trump is one of them, though he has expressed hesitation due to his strong lead in national polls and concerns about the debate moderators.
Despite this, the media-savvy former reality TV star hasn’t definitively ruled out participating.
However, this week he’s dealing with a new legal issue in Georgia, facing accusations related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Even before this, he left the door open to skipping the debate when he mentioned on Fox News that he wouldn’t sign a pledge required of all participants to support the eventual GOP nominee.
Despite these uncertainties, insiders from rival campaigns believe that Trump will likely be on the debate stage. Republican strategist Lanhee Chen, who’s been in touch with several campaigns, explained that they’re preparing for both scenarios – with Trump present and without – as this debate could significantly impact how voters perceive the candidates.
Mike Pence has engaged in multiple formal debate preparation sessions, even enlisting a former Trump aide to mimic the ex-president’s role. While campaigning in Iowa, Pence indicated he’s ready to address various issues, including abortion, and even stand up to Trump’s role in the Capitol attack.
Among the contenders, Ron DeSantis might have the most at stake, given his position as Trump’s main rival. His campaign is gearing up for intense attacks from both Trump and the other candidates. They see the situation as a win-win – if Trump shows up, DeSantis can emphasize his differences, and if Trump doesn’t, he might appear weak.
Trump’s decision to skip the final debate in 2016 before voting began affected his standing, and he finished second in the Iowa caucuses. Regardless of Trump’s choice, DeSantis is eager to talk about his plans for America’s future.
Nikki Haley’s team acknowledges that she isn’t universally recognized, despite her impressive background. Her main goal is to show her strength and determination during the debate. She aims to convey the message that underestimating her could be a mistake.
Vivek Ramaswamy, a newcomer to politics, is taking a different approach. He’s not heavily engaged in formal debate preparation, sticking to his consistent “anti-woke” message whether Trump participates or not.
To be on stage, Trump needs to commit at least 48 hours before the debate and sign a pledge to support the party’s eventual nominee. Trump has expressed reservations about this pledge, citing potential disagreements with certain candidates.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, now a vocal Trump critic, believes Trump should attend the debate. Christie’s allies hope Trump will participate, providing a chance for Christie to challenge him directly. Whether Trump is there or not, the debate is seen as an important opportunity for candidates to break out and present their vision for America’s future.