Soaring Donald Trump snubs second Republican debate to meet auto workers

LOS ANGELES: Republican hopefuls will hold their second presidential debate Wednesday in California but the party’s runaway frontrunner, scandal-plagued former president Donald Trump, will reduce them to a sideshow by snubbing the event.
Trump, 77, says he’s skipping the debates usually a key staple of presidential nomination contests — because he has no need to waste time on his distant challengers.
Instead, the populist real estate tycoon, who is battling multiple criminal proceedings, ranging from fraud to stashing state secrets at his golf club residences and conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, will meet with auto industry workers in the battleground state of Michigan.
The latest legal blow to Trump came Tuesday when a New York judge ruled that he and his sons Eric and Don Jr committed fraud by inflating the value of the real estate and financial assets of the Trump Organization for years.
At his event in Michigan, however, Trump will seek to boost his down-to-earth, blue-collar message by meeting with auto workers.
The industry is in turmoil, with President Joe Biden visiting striking union members on Tuesday. Trump is expected to make an address at a non-unionized plant.
Seven candidates achieved the Republican National Committee’s qualifying criteria to appear on stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California, for the second debate.
Trump’s chief rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, will face off Wednesday evening against political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, Trump’s vice president Mike Pence, and pugnacious former New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum round out the participants who will be present for the clash, televised by Fox Business and Univision.
Trump scoffs at his challengers.
“You know, they’re wasting a lot of time with these ridiculous debates that nobody’s watching,” Trump told supporters at a campaign event in South Carolina on Monday. “Their last debate was the lowest-rated debate in history.”
Gerard Filitti, senior counsel at the Lawfare Project, says Trump’s strategy is intended to send the message that he is the “inevitable” choice to be the Republican standard-bearer in 2024.
“He has nothing to gain by debating, and everything to lose if confronted with questions about his past conduct, the multiple criminal indictments he is facing regarding the 2020 election, and even his lack of clarity or consistency on some issues like abortion,” Filitti told AFP.
Just under 60 percent of Republican primary voters in a new NBC News poll say Trump is their top choice in the crowded primary, with DeSantis trailing at 16 percent. None of the other candidates achieves double figures.
Trump’s legal troubles have done little to dent his lead. He has remained the Republicans’ likely choice for a presidential candidate despite Tuesday’s ruling that could see him ousted from management of the Trump Organization.
The former president denounced the ruling — along with previous charges over alleged hush-money payments and sexual abuses — as a “witch hunt.”
Filitti cautioned that while Trump’s absences from the debates do little to harm him in the primary, they could hurt his standing among traditional Republicans in the general election.
“In fact, his refusal may well be perceived as unwarranted arrogance by many Republicans that are not among his base of supporters, as well as by independents,” he said.
For DeSantis, the showcase presents a second chance to close the polling gap and woo donors, although his well-received performance in the first outing in Milwaukee last month did nothing to dent Trump’s lead.
But the prevailing view on the other side of the aisle is that, regardless of the candidates’ debate performances, the Republican primary is a done deal.
“It’s all for theater,” Democratic election strategist Amani Wells-Onyioha told AFP. “These folks know none of them will become president at this time.”


News5h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button