It was hardly a surprise when Donald Trump said last weekend that he would not be participating in the televised Republican candidate debates. ‘New CBS POLL, just out, has me leading the field by “legendary” numbers,’ he declared on his very own Truth Social platform. ‘The public knows who I am & what a successful presidency I had… I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES.’
In other words, I am winning so I do what I want. Trump’s arrogance puts many people off. It’s also compelling because he has a point. On the right of American politics – and, to a large extent, on the left and centre too – there is only one story and it is Donald Trump.
We’re still 11 months from the Republican National Convention, when the presidential candidate is confirmed. The primary elections don’t begin until January, yet they appear to be a fait accompli; more coronation than contest. Trump, the unstoppable force, is moving towards the immovable object that is the 2024 US presidential election.
Desperate to add new drama, commentators have suggested that, by avoiding the debates, ‘Donald Duck’ has given his would-be challengers a chance to ‘seize the spotlight’. That’s wishful thinking. Without Trump, there is no spotlight. Or as Michael Wolff, the bestselling writer about Trump, puts it: ‘It won’t matter much because nobody will be listening. It’s an “if a tree falls in a forest” situation.’
According to one poll, 73 per cent of Republican voters would have preferred that he had taken part in the first debate. But that’s just because Trumpvision is far more entertaining. So viewers headed to X – the platform formerly known as Twitter – to watch him speak exclusively to the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which aired minutes before the Fox News Republican debate began.