OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Former President Donald Trump refused to participate in the first 2024 Republican primary debate held last week in Madison, Wis., and moderated by Fox News.
At the time, he added that he likely would not be participating in any of the GOP debates. But now he is suggesting he might have changed his mind.
“Do you anticipate at some point jumping into the debates?” Trump was asked during the Todd Starnes’ radio show, the Washington Examiner reported.
“I might. I mean, you know, it’s possible. I liked debating. I guess I won because of the debates,” he said. “You know, they’ve been very good to me. So I might. But at this moment, I’m leading by so much that it seems to be foolish to do it.”
The outlet noted further:
Earlier this month, a source familiar with Trump’s thinking told NBC News that his decision announcing he wouldn’t participate in the first debate applies to only the first two debates, allowing him a chance to attend other debates if he changed his mind.
Trump’s change in thinking also comes after an Emerson College poll released on Monday showed Trump dropped six percentage points after skipping the debate. A predebate poll showed Trump garnering 56% of Republican support, but in the wake of the debate, his support decreased to 50%.
Trump was also critical of Fox News after Starnes asked, “Mr. President, what the heck is going on at Fox News?” — in reference to “Fox & Friends” morning co-host Steve Doocy noting Trump’s drop in the polls after skipping the debate.
“Well, he’s incorrect because most of the polls, and I’m way ahead in Emerson, too, but most of the polls literally have me going up a lot since the debate, if you can call it that,” Trump said. “They’ll pick one poll where if you go down a little bit, they’ll use that one poll, but they won’t use 15 polls or a lot of the polls where you go up. But we’ve gone up very substantially, and we’ve gone up in just about every state.”
The next GOP debate is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, Calif.
Late last month, Trump cited a CBS News poll showing him with 62 percent support as justification for not participating in the debates.
“New CBS POLL, just out, has me leading the field by ‘legendary’ numbers. TRUMP 62%, 46 Points above DeSanctimonious (who is crashing like an ailing bird!), Ramaswamy 7%, Pence 5%, Scott 3%, Haley 2%, Sloppy Chris Christie 2%, ‘Aida’ Hutchinson 1%,” he wrote on his platform.
“The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!” he added.
Trump, now facing four indictments as the leading 2024 GOP presidential contender, is planning a cable news blitz as after a sit-down interview with former Fox News star Tucker Carlson as a counter to the first Republican debate.
CNN host Jim Acosta appeared to be taken aback during a recent show segment after learning from a network polling analyst Trump is “in a stronger position” now than he was in 2020, despite the indictments.
In an interview with host Jim Acosta, analyst Harry Enten said current polling data suggest that Trump appears to be gaining momentum at a clip unseen during his last campaign, which occurred at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing a Quinnipiac University survey from February, Enten noted that at the time, President Joe Biden led by 2 points, but now, Biden is only up by one point, “well within the margin of error,” he said.
“But take away one thing from this and one thing only if you take away only one thing, and that is, I think there are a lot of Democrats who simply can’t believe that Donald Trump can be elected president again — the polling indicates that Trump is, in fact, in a stronger position at this point than he was during the entire 2020 campaign, according to the national polls,” Enten continued.
“When the race is that close, it comes down to the Electoral College, and who knows what happens with that,” Acosta responded. “We don’t even have those kinds of numbers just yet.
“But from a national standpoint, you’re absolutely right. It is remarkable where Trump stands right now when it comes to the rest of this field and with general election voters,” he added.