It’s clear Trump played the debates perfectly, and by avoiding them entirely he’s turned them into a pointless spectacle – DAVID RAUDALES


Businessman, musician / former Full Stack Developer


It’s clear Trump played the debates perfectly, and by avoiding them entirely he’s turned them into a pointless spectacle

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley looks on as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gets a touch up during the second 2024 GOP primary debate.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Trump made the right decision by skipping the GOP primary debates.
Wednesday’s contest was a mess as his desperate challengers sought a breakout moment.
The debate ended with none of the 7 hopefuls anywhere closer to piercing the former president’s lead.

Former President Donald Trump gambled that his apparent glide path to recapturing the Republican presidential debate would not be derailed by skipping the very primary debates he used in 2015 to cement his hostile takeover of the GOP.

His wager worked out perfectly. Now, one of his senior advisors is calling for the Republican National Committee to cancel any future debates. As a journalist, I appreciate any forum that forces candidates to go on the record about their positions. But in terms of the race itself, it’s hard to see anything that will dampen Trump’s 40-point lead in national polling. The former president also holds a commanding lead in the early states that have reliable polling available. No recent GOP presidential nominee has emerged without winning one of the first four races.

Wednesday night’s debate illustrated the dire state of the race for the rest of the field. At multiple times, Fox’s moderators struggled to control the desperate hopefuls vying for a campaign-changing moment. There were at least two instances when the seven candidates spoke over each other so much that it was difficult to hear anyone at all. Despite being literally overshadowed by Ronald Reagan’s legacy, none of the candidates were able to match the debate’s backdrop.

—The Recount (@therecount) September 28, 2023


Trump’s bet was not a sure thing. His close loss in the 2016 Iowa Republican caucuses is remembered for his decision to skip the final debate that preceded the first in the nation contest. Multiple commentators wondered if Republican voters would punish him again, this time for not even deigning to show up to any of the debates. Now, it looks clear that by staying away Trump deprived the debates of the spectacle that surrounds him. It’s so bad that Semafor reported before Wednesday’s debate that Fox was slashing ad prices.

The desperation seemed almost apparent at times in the questions themselves, including a final encouragement for the hopefuls to write down the name of the primary foe they wished would drop out — as if the contest to become president had suddenly become “Survivor.” CBS’s long-running hit is produced by Mark Burnett, the same TV wiz who tapped Trump for “The Apprentice.” Sometimes the metaphors aren’t hard to find.

If the former president goes on to face President Joe Biden in a rematch, his most crucial decision will end up being a relentless stream of attacks he and his allies inflicted on Ron DeSantis for months before the Florida governor finally entered the field. In retrospect, DeSantis’ decision to wait for Florida’s legislature to finish and his tendency to absorb Trump’s blows without a retort significantly weakened the former president’s best-placed challenger. As others have written, DeSantis’ defining issue of his COVID-19 pandemic response has failed to resonate. Instead, his battle with Disney and other culture war issues has alienated allies who were once in his corner.

In the end, GOP primary voters are poised to reject any replicas of Trump — half the stage dressed like him, after all — when the original is right before them. The long-held obsession of any Republican directly taking Trump to task has also seemed to fail. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie quipped the debate that Trump would be known as “Donald Duck” if he continued to skip out. His joke received a few boos and little response beyond that.

It’s fitting that one of the debate’s final moments was former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley arguing with Sen. Tim Scott, the very man she tapped for a historic appointment in the first place, over curtains in the ambassador’s residence. Haley was right that Scott largely had his facts wrong. But honestly, it really doesn’t matter.

None of these candidates are going to be measuring the drapes in the Oval Office anytime soon.

Read the original article on Business Insider