Much of the focus surrounding the decision by former President Donald Trump to skip the first Republican presidential primary debate has revolved around the potential opportunity he could be handing to his other GOP colleagues.
But, one of Trump’s former White House staff members said that her boss’ decision could play right into the hands of the person who he’s eyesing as his ultimate competitor – Democratic President Joe Biden.
Appearing on the “Outnumbered” program on Fox News on Monday, Kayleigh McEnany – who served as a press secretary during the Trump administration – said Trump’s decision to skip the first GOP debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this week could give Biden the excuse he needs to not attend a debate against Trump, should the two end up being their parties’ presidential nominees, as expected.
Trump confirmed over the weekend that he would not be attending the first GOP primary debate this week in Milwaukee, and a statement he posted to his social media platform, Truth Social, also hinted that he might skip all future GOP debates as well.
McEnany commented on the effect that decision could have on the other GOP presidential candidates as well as on Biden. She said:
“The indication is former President Trump will not be here (at the first GOP debate). And the takeaway from that is this is a huge political miscalculation, I would say, for him for two reasons: You give others the opportunity to shine. You give others two hours to throw lobs at you.
“And I know former President Trump can dance across that debate stage, can defend himself – but you’re not there to do it yourself.”
Trump has consistently said over the last few months that he didn’t see a benefit in attending the GOP debates, since he has such a large lead in polls. He essentially didn’t feel like it was necessary for him to even engage with the other GOP candidates, since he doesn’t view them as his real competition.
But, McEnany points out that Trump could actually have done himself more good by attending, since he could easily dispel the criticisms that his opponents are likely to hurl his way. With him not there, there’s no one to counter the arguments being made by the other GOP candidates.
In expanding on her thoughts, McEnany referred to a report that Politico published back in February suggesting that staffers for Biden believe that Republicans would be reluctant to work with the organization that organizes the debates for the general election – the Commission on Presidential Debates.
To that end, Politico reported that it might end up “lessening the chances, and risk, of a head-to-head debate.”
As McEnany pointed out:
“So, Biden can say, “I’m going to use the Trump precedent here; I’m not showing up; my internal polls show me – show I’m up.”
While Trump would likely try to use Biden not showing up for a debate against him, it would be hard for him to justify his words as not being hypocritical, since he didn’t show up for the GOP presidential debates in the first place.