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Trump's Refusal to Join GOP Debate Is a Brilliant Move

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Paul du Quenoy By Wednesday, 23 August 2023 09:17 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

"Will he or won't he?" The speculation has run in recent weeks over whether former president and current Republican front-runner Donald J. Trump will join the GOP debate on Wednesday evening.

As Trump announced on Friday, he won't.

His decision is a brilliant move by the most astute strategist in American politics since Ronald Reagan.

Reagan, as Trump pointed out on his Truth Social platform, also declined to debate a Republican field in which he was leading when he ran for president in 1980.

In Trump's case, however, the wisdom of staying out of the debate is even more compelling.

For a non-incumbent president, Trump's lead over his fellow Republicans is unprecedented. Almost every poll shows him crushing his nearest contenders — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — by 40 points or more, while all others languish in or near single digits.

Trump enjoys double-digit leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, both important early primary states, and in the home states of all of his rivals.

Many polls show Trump beating or tying President Joe Biden in a hypothetical rematch, while most also predict that any of his GOP competitors would likely lose a head-to-head contest with the incumbent president.

Trump continues to soar despite eight years of legacy media bias and bile, bitter attacks from outsized but largely powerless critics within the GOP establishment, immense bureaucratic resistance, the fake Russia hoax, the fake Ukraine hoax, two failed impeachments, four questionable indictments, and 91 pending but highly politicized felony counts, among other potential disadvantages.

From a position of overwhelming strength, however, the former president's campaign, ideas, personality, and platform require no justification alongside his motley assortment of Lilliputian opponents.

By resisting entreaties to join the debate from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and, reportedly, from Fox News executives who likely fear a ratings catastrophe without him, he has proved that he has nothing to gain from participating in the debate nor anything to fear from not participating in it.

Indeed, Trump's telling response to Fox, whose leadership opposes his return to office, was to schedule an online interview with Tucker Carlson, who technically remains under contract with the media conglomerate but was removed from its programming earlier this year, likely because of his loyalty to Trump.

In short, Trump commands the heart and soul of the Republican Party, with a base extending far beyond the 30% or so of Republicans who were long believed to constitute it.

Partisan prosecutions appear to be attempting to criminalize the former president for stating opinions and seeking legal advice. This is only helping the former president.

Public trust in federal government agencies and established national institutions that oppose Trump has sunk to an all-time low and continues to fall, with no remedial measures in sight.

Trump's claim that he is the "retribution" of tens of millions of Americans who feel abused, disenfranchised, ignored, disrespected, and hopeless has forged a strong emotional connection with a majority of Republican, many independent, and even some Democratic voters that no other GOP candidate's reasoned wonkery or courtly manners can come close to equaling.

With the exception of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Trump's opponents almost categorically refrain from attacking him, and are unlikely to do so in the debate, whether he is there or not.

DeSantis, who is conventionally regarded as Trump's closest rival but is rapidly losing ground to Ramaswamy and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, reportedly plans to use his debate time to defend Trump, who routinely derides him on the campaign trail, and attack Ramaswamy, who now leads DeSantis for second place in multiple polls.

As Trump noted on social media, many of his rivals' campaigns resemble auditions for his vice presidential slot far more than real opposition to his candidacy.

Those who don't get to run with Trump for vice president can expect to resurface after the presidential election as cabinet-levels officials or ambassadors if he wins, or as high-paid political analysts, overindulged professors of public policy, well-hyped authors, or future candidates for office if he loses.

All Trump needs do on Wednesday is sit back and look down on the arena as the other candidates tear each other apart while revealing their strengths and weaknesses to a leader who will soon almost certainly be unchallenged.

Sun Tzu could not have strategized it better.

Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University. Read more — Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

All Trump needs do on Wednesday is sit back and look down on the arena as the other candidates tear each other apart while revealing their strengths and weaknesses to a leader who will soon almost certainly be unchallenged.
trump, gop, debate, strategist
Wednesday, 23 August 2023 09:17 AM
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