June 25, 2024

In my opinion, the two GOP presidential debates we’ve had so far have been a mixed bag, with the first one being more substantive and informative and the second one being more entertaining – but for all the wrong reasons, including the curtain fight between former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

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As frustrating as debates can be to watch, with candidates sometimes being judged (or attacking each other) over things like sweating or flies on top of their heads instead of what they have to say on the issues, they are a necessary evil because it’s one of the best ways for broad swaths of the electorate to get to know the people who are running for office.

Presumably, there will be more than three of them, but as it stands now, there have been no more Republican presidential primary debates announced beyond the third one, which takes place in Miami on November 8th. According to reports, the candidates who likely have already made the debate stage are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Haley, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, with former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Scott all having “a solid shot” at participating.

One person who has said he won’t be there is former POTUS Donald Trump, whose campaign is now calling for the RNC to cancel the Miami debate and future debates on grounds that it’s time for all resources to be focused on preventing Democrats from allegedly trying to steal the next election. 

Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, who are senior advisors for the campaign, suggested that not doing so would mean that the RNC was demonstrating it did not take voter concerns seriously and was “more concerned about helping Joe Biden”:

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The Republican National Committee should immediately cancel the upcoming debate in Miami and end all future debates in order to refocus its manpower and money on preventing Democrats’ efforts to steal the 2024 election. 

 Anything less, along with other reasons not to cancel, are an admission to the grassroots that their concerns about voter integrity are not taken seriously and national Republicans are more concerned about helping Joe Biden than ensuring a safe and secure election.

DeSantis was asked about their call to cancel all future debates and responded by going there, accusing Trump of employing a Joe Biden-esque “basement strategy” in his campaign, a strategy he says will not help Republicans defeat Joe Biden.

“You owe it to the voters to show up and you need to defend your record,” DeSantis also said.

Partial transcript from the tweet, make sure to watch the full video below:

“I could say, you know, Florida State, they’re undefeated rn…Why even have the rest of the season?…Maybe we should just crown them natl champions. That’s not the way it works. You got to earn this &, yes, Donald Trump has gotten a lot of media attention, gets way more than anybody else…I saw him in Iowa Sunday & he was talking about his promise to have Mexico pay for the border wall, probably one of the most famous promises in political history, certainly the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign & what he said was really startling…He said there was no way he could ever have made Mexico pay & basically admitting that the whole promise was phony from the beginning.  

So, one, I think that’s really bad. This is a different guy in ’23 than in 2016. But the problem even [bigger], you actually could have made Mexico pay. No, they’re not just going to cut you a check. You impose fees on remittances for people sending money back to Mexico. That’s something that his staff said he was interested in doing & he didn’t do. That’s why you have to go to the debates. You can’t beat the Democrats by running Biden’s basement strategy. You owe it to the voters to show up & you need to defend your record.”

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Watch:

Biden’s basement strategy was something Republicans including Trump himself heavily criticized in 2020.

DeSantis didn’t address the Trump campaign’s claim that not canceling the debates equates to helping Democrats “steal” the election probably because the claim, in my view, speaks for itself – in other words, yes, debates can be held at the same time Republicans fight to prevent Democrat shenanigans at the ballot box.

As I noted earlier, debates are an important part of the electoral process because it allows people to take a closer look at who the candidates are, where they stand on the issues, and how they perform under pressure.  Plus, as DeSantis indicated, they are the perfect place to defend your record.

Honestly, I can’t envision a scenario where fewer debates either in the primary or during the general election campaign season would be better for the country, but I’ll leave that up to readers to discuss.

Related: Ron DeSantis Delivers Delicious Opening Salvo Ahead of Eagerly Awaited Debate With Gavin Newsom

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