Trump skips debate
Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC, shares his perspective on US politics.
Is it really a Republican debate without President Trump?
Eight candidates are going to show up in Milwaukee this week in order to debate on stage for the right to be the Republican nominee for President, and all of them are going to be living in the shadow of the one candidate who won't show up: Donald J. Trump, former President of the United States, who's been indicted four times for various criminal charges across multiple jurisdictions in Georgia, New York, Washington, and Florida.
Trump is dominating the Republican field right now, and even though he's not showing up for the debate, he's going to be the main topic, because every single one of these candidates who is going to be there, who met the RNC's strict qualifications to show up on stage, is going to be trying to distinguish themselves and take down his massive polling leads. So this contest this week isn't going to be about these candidates trying to get out ahead of one another. They're trying to break through so they can knock away at Trump's polling lead.
We're still months out from the first vote being cast in this election, and Trump right now looks unstoppable. Ron DeSantis is the only credible candidate who's in double digits on the polling, but his campaign has largely flailed out over the last several months, with his approval ratings dropping and his meager polling advantage over the rest of the field starting to droop. So, this is Trump's race to lose. He's not likely to show up for any of the debates because he's so far in front of the field. This is a great front-runner strategy of just ignoring everybody else and not even acknowledging that it's a real contest, and right now it looks like it isn't one.
So, the debate may be pretty entertaining, but it's going to be a lot less entertaining without Trump there. The debates in 2016 is where he really distinguished himself from the field and established himself as the greatest show on Earth in American politics. He'll try to dominate media through his post on Truth Social, and of course, the rest of the campaign is going to be him dominating because of his criminal trials.
So, tune in for the debate. Should be entertaining, could be a lot better, and we'll see if he shows up for the second one.