Trump says he won’t participate in GOP debate on Fox News – The Washington Post

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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43 Responses

  1. Alan Scott says:

    Perfect move for him, I think. His debate act doesn’t sustain, so the best way to maintain interest in the Trump brand to to do something crazy and unexpected that get people talking about him instead of bored with him. And nobody who’s voting for Trump cares that he’s not willing to play the game.Report

  2. Michael Drew says:

    It seems to open him up to the downside of the debates – unified disparagement across the stage – while ceding the upside – to my eye he’s helped himself (polls-wise) on net every time he’s stepped on the stage save once or maybe twice.

    So if he actually doesn’t show (I’ll believe it when I see it), I’ll be looking for what way he chooses to try to bigfoot the event via “earned” media coverage of a rival event he’d stage. If he doesn’t do that, *then* I’ll start to second guess it – until, probably, it’ll work out for him somehow anyway.

    OTOH, I’m not sure I think he’s going to win Iowa yet, even if all the dice fall his way for the next five days.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I’d go a step further and see this as a possible unforced error on Trump’s part.

      Like you say, he usually manages the debates well by handling his critics in realtime, and forcing them to think twice about full engagement lest they get too close and take a full verbal fusillade.

      Absent Trump, the remainders will be able to tee-off without fear of reprisal.

      I’m surprised a salesman like Trump would make this sort of mistake… it can only come from supreme (over-)confidence.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Marchmaine says:

        This feels a bit like the Perot-flipout, from which he never recovered. That’s probably optimistic, as we know the rules don’t apply to Trump.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

          This reminds me of something I’ve been wondering about, which is that having an….let’s charitably call him an “entertaining outsider” candidate like Trump technically still “inside” the Republican tent (and therefore, de facto playing in the big leagues) seemingly starves any “true” outsider candidates of any media oxygen whatsoever.

          I mean, can anybody here even name a single third-party candidate at this point? If a Nader or a Perot or whoever were to declare, would anyone even notice, since everyone is focused on Trump all the time? We seemingly only have the mental space for one truly unique candidate per cycle, and this cycle he’s it.

          In this sense, the GOP is, let’s charitably say “cunning” to not have axed Trump already, since his star power keeps anyone outside the two-party machine from flanking and siphoning votes from it.

          But it’s a dangerous game to flip a coin on whether you want your biggest danger outside your tent, or inside it with you.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

            This is a good point. When is the last time you heard the name “Gary Johnson”? The last time I heard it was when he had a minor kerfuffle over the hijab (he was against it, then he was for it again).

            Other than that… I’ve heard nothing. He’s the presumptive Libertarian nominee. I had to google him just now to confirm that he’s still in the race.

            Rand Paul was supposed to be the cranky guy yelling about the Constitution. The cranky guy yelling about the constitution vote, however, seems to have gravitated to Trump.

            For some reason.Report

          • North in reply to Glyph says:

            It depends Glyph, but I don’t think so. If Trump loses and doesn’t launch a third party bid of his own taking his disaffected populist voters with him and doesn’t demotivate and depress his segment of the GOP base then the GOP has still been hauled hard to the right, is pummelled bloody, looks like a batch of idiots and has provided the Democrats with so many soundbites they’re having to buy extra server space. So I can’t see the upside for the GOP since that’s their best case scenario.Report

          • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

            I can name a single third party candidate, but it’s kinda graphic, and I don’t think they’re actually going to get on the Green Party ballot.Report

          • Alan Scott in reply to Glyph says:

            Isn’t it a bit early in the cycle to be hearing about 3rd party and independent candidates? Gary Johnson got in the news early b/c he was a candidate in the Republican Primary.

            By contrast, Perot announced his candidacy at the end of February.Report

      • We’ll see for sure next week, but I think this may be an excellent tactical move on Trump’s part. Certainly all the other candidates will be prepped to try to advance themselves at Trump’s expense. And I’m sure that Fox is/was ready to prompt such attacks if the others didn’t take that task on themselves. As of now, such behavior carries the risk of looking bad: “Why are you attacking the man who isn’t there?” If the attacks take place, the Donald can have his own press conference the day after and pose that question himself, framing it any way he chooses, and know that he will get the camera time.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Yeah, I worry that he can flip this into a “they need me, I don’t need them” moment.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

            a “they need me, I don’t need them” moment.

            It’s already clearly that, isn’t it? The question is just whether it backfires or just plain doesn’t work for some reason.

            My view is that it’s probably marginal either way. There have been a lot of debates. I’m not sure not being in one really hurts or helps all that much. And I don’t think the optics of climbing down and showing up are gonna matter al that much, either – he can bluster and deflect right through that with what he says at the debate itself.

            I think it’s sort of a wash. I don’t think it ends up mattering much. (And as I say, I don’t necessarily think “matter” means “derail him from a clear run at victory in Iowa,” either – I’m not sure he’s on that path.)

            Having blown up the whole thing attention wise now, though, I imagine now he’ll show.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

              Well, he’s likely to lose (that is “not win”) Iowa. He now can shrug and say that “The Media” was against him and he can go on to win New Hampshire.

              The Republican Establishment Narrative is usually some variant of “Iowa doesn’t matter because those people are religious nuts and New Hampshire doesn’t matter because those people are libertine nuts and South Carolina is the first state that matters because they’re the state that picks the grownup that will go on to win the nomination.”

              And this was true until 2012, when Newt won.

              All that to say: we’ve still got Schrodinger’s nominee until April or so.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Michael Cain says:

          To be sure… it is nothing more than an opportunity. The other candidates have to make proper use of it.

          My point is that he’s giving them the opportunity, not that the others will capitalize on it.

          For all I know, he may have a better debate by *not* being there and live-tweeting. We’ve never actually seen that before. But that is not what most folks are saying… they are treating the walk-out as somehow definitional, I don’t think that’s right.Report

          • Kolohe in reply to Marchmaine says:

            For all I know, he may have a better debate by *not* being there and live-tweeting.We’ve never actually seen that before.

            Jim Gilmore did it back in September, and, arguably, this Republican nomination contest hasn’t been like any of the others since.Report

    • North in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I can’t make up my mind what this results in. If his competing “event” is a ratings flop will that hurt him? If(when) he gets hammered at the debates can he strike back effectively from afar? Does he need to? Or does this last unorthodox media headline grabber carry him through to the primary?Report

  3. nevermoor says:

    If I’m betting, Fox caves and switches her out as a moderator.Report

  4. Roland Dodds says:

    I can’t even imagine a Republican debate without his presence. Since I will sit through the whole thing, I hope we don’t end up with 2 hours of pointless chatter about their fictional tax plans.Report

    • I’ve been leaning more and more to that line of thought of late. The Republican Party’s problem isn’t Trump the person; it’s that Trump has fired up a base (not necessarily all Republican) about economic issues. That it’s wrapped in assorted bits of nastiness isn’t the important thing. Jobs disappeared because of outsourcing? I’ll punish those companies, and slap on tariffs. Because illegal immigrants took them? I’ll kick the immigrants out. Yeah, we ought to have higher taxes on those darned hedge fund managers who knock down a billion a year. The thing the big-business arm of the Republican Party has to be afraid of is that even if Trump doesn’t win the nomination, they’ve got to say something to that group of people, and it can’t be “Oh, that’s a bunch of hogwash, and we’ve got economists who will tell you why.” Not this time.Report

      • North in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Yeah this isn’t something Trump did to the GOP. The GOP did this to themselves. Trump is simply the opportunistic foreign organism that swam into the congenial environment the GOP turned themselves into and began eating all the local small fish. He’s the asian carp of republican politics.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Agreed. All the other Republican candidates are playing by the same old rule book as Frum demonstrates but many Republican voters are no longer buying this. Trump is promising the economic populism that the Republican base wants and the base is eating it up.Report

    • Frum begins with this fable:

      A boy put his hand into a jar of filberts and grasped as many as his fist could possibly hold. But when he tried to pull it out again, he found he couldn’t do so, for the neck of the jar was too small to allow of the passage of so large a handful. Unwilling to lose his nuts but unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears.

      A bystander, who saw where the trouble lay, said to him,

      “Come, my boy, don’t be so greedy. Be content with half the amount, and you’ll be able to get your hand out without difficulty.”

      Which is exactly on-point: the GOP coalition is made up of many different kinds of nuts.Report

  5. I’ll be interested to see whether the debate’s ratings drop significantly without Trump as a draw.Report

  6. Tod Kelly says:

    It seems a little disingenuous to put just that part of the story here, and not include any info about the press release from Fox that made Trump pull out.

    Because that press release was incredibly inappropriate and unprofessional, and if I were on Trump’s team I might well have advised him to pull out as well.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Isn’t the point of linkage posts just ‘this is what some person on the interwebz said?’ i.e. Hot Take, Served Warm. It’s not supposed to be fair and balanced, like a regular post or even gift of gab is, correct?Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

        That’s my understanding too. The linker copy-pastes a paragraph or two which they found interesting/weird and post it without commentary to invite the reader to it out. I give it a thumbs up.Report

      • CK MacLeod in reply to Kolohe says:

        Not sure that even our Featured posts are more than “some person on the interwebz” saying something, but, yeah. Calling it “disingenuous” is unfair to the Linkager, especially when it would be easy to Linkage another link to the FNC press release or an article about it, or to write a quick OTC or regular post bringing it to our attention – presuming a comment doesn’t seem “high profile” enough.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Kolohe says:

        That’s what I would do (in a Linkage or link-based OTC or a Linky Friday or Morning Ed item) for an opinion piece. This was a news article, though, and I felt that the first paragraph best displayed the issue at play. I don’t think that the press release was unimportant, but there are a lot of important aspects to this article.

        Which is to say that if I chose the wrong paragraphs to demonstrate, it was my error rather than my adhering to a particular format.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Kolohe says:

        I think you misunderstand. I am saying that Rucker is disingenuous, not Will.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      That was the order?

      I thought the press release I saw was reacting to the pull-out. But maybe not.

      It seems pretty fair to me to just say “Trump pulled out of the debate” & let people figure it out from there. It’s true, after all.

      But then I don’t have any of the sense of indignation about it that others seem to. Fox may be *right* to be going directly after one participant in the primary in an overtly singular way, but then if so it’s still perfectly okay in my view for that candidate to react as any other candidate would and should in his place.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:


      My understanding was that the order went like this:
      -Trump suggests that he won’t participate in the debate.
      -Fox News mocks him
      -Trump says he won’t participate in the debate.

      The reasons he gave for bolting seemed to have more to do with Kelly and networks making money off him. The press release was an escalating event rather than the (or a) precipitating one.

      In the Trump vs NR flap, where NR was kicked out from moderating in a debate, I actually sided with Trump. I appreciate what NR did, but not being able to moderate seemed like an inevitable repercussion. Here, though, I tend to go with Fox. They perhaps should have framed their response differently, but I think it was the response rather than the framing that had the effect (if there was any and it hadn’t already been decided).Report

  7. rexknobus says:

    I’m thinking that Trump is counting on a big dip in ratings for the debate and then coming in with a “See? Nobody cares about any of those guys. Sad!” the next day. Gets to stay home netflixing and then zap the other candidates. Win/Win.Report

  8. Rufus F. says:

    Of course he doesn’t want to be on; they’re part of the liberal media. Of course they don’t want him; he’s a part of the liberal media. Liberal media, liberal media, etc.Report