GOP Divided by Trump’s Threat to Skip First Debate

Republican Party is divided before the first Republican presidential debate scheduled for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee over whether former President Trump should show up at the event with some warning it would be a bad look for the party if he skips it.

In order to qualify for the debate stage, candidates will have to pledge to support the eventual GOP presidential nominee in line with the Republican National Committee’s demands – a promise that Trump has so far refused to make stressing his support would depend on who the nominee will be.

According to the RNC and some Republicans, Trump is holding off on committing to the debate to exert leverage over the rules, but other GOP members warn that Trump’s absence on the stage will hurt other candidates because fewer voters will watch the event. 

Previously last month, Trump not only skipped the fundraising event in Des Moines which drew eight other presidential candidates – Ernst’s annual “Roast and Ride” – but appeared disdainful of having to share the stage with his challengers. 

His absence from the debate, which will be broadcast by Fox News and moderated by Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, would make Florida Gov. Ron the focal point of the evening and the main target if GOP candidates’ fire in hopes of displacing him as Trump’s leading alternative. 

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