According to USA Today, former President Donald Trump recently cast doubt on his participation in Republican presidential debates, expressing complaints about moderators and venues. In a statement posted on his Truth Social media site, Trump revealed that he did not approve of the debates that were announced and negotiated by the Republican National Committee, which had unveiled partial plans for two debates, one in August in Milwaukee and another later in the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif.
Despite no specific dates being set, Trump suggested that he might not attend the debates, citing his big lead in polls and questioning why he would subject himself to “hostile NETWORKS” with “TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors” asking questions. He also criticized the involvement of the publisher of The Washington Post newspaper in the Reagan library foundation and ended his statement with a resounding “NO!”
However, some have speculated that Trump’s suggestion of a debate boycott could be a diversionary tactic, given that he posted his protest during the opening day of a defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who has accused him of rape. Moreover, opponents of the former president have accused him of laying the groundwork to avoid debating opponents, with an organization called Republicans Against Trumpism tweeting that “‘Alpha male’ Donnie is scared of debates. Coward.”
Trump has a history of threatening to skip debates and sometimes following through. In early 2016, he refused to attend an Iowa debate due to alleged bias against him by Fox News and anchor Megyn Kelly. Later in 2019, he suggested he might skip the 2020 presidential debates due to complaints about the debate commission, but ended up debating Joe Biden twice. Republicans as a whole have also questioned whether there will be general election debates in 2024, stating that they will not participate if the Commission on Presidential Debates is involved.