Former President Trump on Tuesday raised the prospect of skipping the two Republican White House primary debates that have been announced thus far, suggesting he should not have to subject himself to such scrutiny given his commanding lead in the polls.
“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 wrote on Truth Social. “When you’re leading by seemingly insurmountable numbers, and you have hostile Networks with angry, TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors asking the ‘questions,’ why subject yourself to being libeled and abused?”
Trump also took issue with plans to hold the second planned GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, noting that Fred Ryan, publisher of The Washington Post, is chairman of the board of trustees at the Reagan library.
The first GOP primary debate is set for August in Milwaukee. The date of the second has not yet been announced.
It has become commonplace for Trump to threaten to skip debates dating back to his time as a candidate for the Republican nomination during the 2016 primary.
He threatened to skip a primary debate in early 2016 because he felt then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly would not treat him fairly. Kelly at an earlier debate had pressed Trump on his previous derogatory comments about women.
In March 2016, Trump threatened to skip a CNN town hall interview, citing his perception that the network had treated him unfairly.
In 2019, Trump suggested he may skip the presidential debates the following year if they were hosted by Fox News as he took issue with the network’s coverage.
And in the lead up to the 2020 debates between Trump and Biden, Trump repeatedly raised the prospect of boycotting the debates over issues with the nonpartisan Presidential Debate Commission.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has not yet laid out the criteria for participating in this summer’s primary debates, though Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has said those who wish to participate will have to agree to a pledge to support the eventual nominee, something Trump did not do during the 2016 primary.
The potential for 2024 general election debates remains in question: The RNC last year voted to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates, accusing the group that has run the debates since 1988 of bias against its candidates.
Trump is one of several declared candidates in the GOP race, including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and conservative entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Others, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and former Vice President Mike Pence, are expected to decide whether to run for president in the coming weeks.