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To Debate or Not to Debate … That is the Question

To Debate or Not to Debate … That is the Question

Update: Trump has just announced that instead of attending the debate, he will opt for an interview with Tucker Carlson.

In characteristic fashion, President Trump is holding the media spotlight by leaving his participation in the upcoming GOP debate in limbo.  He is not saying he will – and he is not saying he will not.  That leaves all the media-grabbing daily speculations up to pundits.I would be surprised if he does not jump into the debate at the last moment – after having consumed all the pre-debate oxygen in the airwaves. 

But I am prepared to be surprised.I am inclined to believe he will debate because the advantage-to-disadvantage ratio seems to favor the former.  It also seems more consistent with his personal style.  Among the things that favor participation in the debate are:

1. His ego.  The man is a walking reality show, and the debate is just that.  He also considers himself an extraordinary debater.Direct confrontation works for Trump. 

It was in the 2016 debates that he devastated his competition – including an entire field of the leading personalities in the Republican Party.  He not only knocked them out of the 2016 race, he ended a lot of political careers.  Consider the fact that only one of his 16 competitors in 2016, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is in the 2024 campaign.  Three of the 2016 gang remain in the Senate (Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio), but out of the presidential contender category. 

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is peddling sleep potions and children’s books.  Former Ohio Governor John Kasich is an occasional Trump critic on left-leaning media.  Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, part of the Bush Dynasty and the anticipated nominee in 2016 has not been heard from since. 

Moving into the world of anonymity were Dr. Ben Carson, CEO Carly Fiorina, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, former Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter. and former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer.  Herman Cane, Mr. 999, has since died.

2. Debates appeal to his base.  Like the citizens of Rome in the Coliseum, Trump’s fans love to see him in full armor – taking on his adversaries with his uniquely bladed tongue.  And pleasing his base pleases Trump.No debating suggests fear or weakness. 

While Trump can see not debating as a reflection of his lead in the current polling, those same polls show that he could lose some support if he does not debate.He gives his rivals an unchallenged opportunity to attack.  Shooting barbs after the fact from the sidelines is never as effective as face-to-face confrontation.

Trump can create a distraction from the debates, as some have suggested.  He can try, but that is a losing strategy.  Republican voters, and others, will be tuning into the debate. The most important news outlet for Trump is FOX News. As host of the debate, you can rest assured they will not distract from their own event.

Not debating is not likely to be a fatal — or even a significant – blow to the Trump campaign, but it is more likely to be more disadvantageous than advantageous.  The only reason I see for Trump not debating is that he is afraid – afraid that he cannot hold his own in the same way he did in 2016.  Afraid that the others on the stage may not be so easily crushed.  He may be right.  He took his adversaries by surprise in 2016.  The 2024 group is going to come to the stage much better prepared for the Trump style.Personally, I hope he does debate.So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

1 Comment

  1. frank stetson

    “Update: Trump has just announced that instead of attending the debate, he will opt for an interview with Tucker Carlson.”
    So, the rest of the story is a giant “what if?” Slow news day so printing what might have been? Got a quota to meet?

    Since the actual news is what is not written by Horist, I guess Horist feels surprised, very surprised. Prepared, but surprised.
    Surprised by Trump’s apparent deflated ego (it’s been a bad 2+ years; barely had anything to read on the john. Losing base appeal: even the KKK ain’t coming to dinner at Mar A Loser anymore. He sounds more whiney than vicious now.

    No, Trump won’t toe the line, can’t stand up to the likes Christie, everyone on that stage has had four more years of dealing with Don and, as Horist notes, others who dealt with Don have also opted to sit this one out. They are young enough, but Don has proven that to fight with a pig, you are both gonna get dirty. It’s just that the pig enjoys it. And many Republicans are afraid of him, bow down, and pledge fealty instead. Speaking of pigs, DeSantimonious has announced he can’t spell Trump, besides there’s an Indian-nobody to beat up on instead, DeSantis still thinks we taught Indians valuable skills during the massacres. That’s a guy he can beat on without getting dirty or breaking a sweat. Scott looking for the VP job – willing to not count votes in a single bound and may skip the debate too so he can plaster Don’s hair down for Tucker…. Whatever. Pence is still busy looking for his penis, turns out Haley has it but does not know how to make it work, and it goes even farther downhill from there for the rest who none of us can recognize.

    Fact is that it really looks like a bad week for the Don next week. He is trading national exposure on the debates for a niche slice with Tucker twitter with the only good news is he can make up the number of views. And that’s on top of this week, one of his worst weeks. He deferred his jailhouse photo shoot until next week, had to get his hair done (better get than chin right), he’s gonna hit Monday’s 11 am weasel-worded waffle in Bedminster NJ on his now famous non-Report followed by his non-Debate with the Non-watched Carlson to buoy him towards shore. Should be a love fest. Trump will claim ratings bonanza and who will doubt him — the entire cast of Bonanza is dead.

    How he pulls this week off will be interesting to watch. He seems to be opting out more than opting in.

    I know it’s summer, but is he is showing up a lot sweating like a pig – or what? He seems more shiny, more slimy of late. Just me?