Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Trump will not Attend Fox's Republican Debate

On Tuesday Donald Trump announced his plans to boycott the Republican Debate scheduled for Thursday the 28th. This came as a surprise to some, as the debate provides a final opportunity to build momentum into the Iowa caucus that is only a week away. Trump is instead planning to hold a fundraiser that day for the Wounded Veterans Foundation.

This has been building up for months and is not the first time Trump has threatened to boycott a debate. Trump threatened to boycott the Dec 15th CNN debate unless CNN made a 5 million dollar donation to Wounded Veterans. Eventually CNN called his bluff and he still attended without the donation made.

His threats seems serious this time as the conflict between he and FOX news has risen greatly. The conflict all stems from the August FOX news debate, where Trump felt debate moderator Megyn Kelly was out of line with her questioning of Trump's views on women. Since then, Trump has attacked her on many occasions, even calling her a "third-rate reporter." After the announcement that Kelly would again moderate this upcoming debate, Trump immediately requested her removal. FOX has viciously defended Kelly and has even made some taunting remarks towards Trump questioning his overall political toughness. This has been repeated by the other GOP candidates such as Ted Cruz who questioned whether Trump could deal with tough leaders such as Vladimir Putin if he can't even handle a few tough debate questions.

The decision to not attend a debate that is so close to a caucus is unprecedented, however it is yet to be seen if this is a good strategy move for the Trump campaign. Conventional wisdom might say that this is the wrong move, highlighting weakness by appearing as if he can't handle tough questions. However nothing about the Trump campaign has been conventional and this move has allowed Trump to dominate the news cycle yet again. We learned the importance of winning news cycles in the War Room and this cycle will be taken by Trump just a few days before the first caucus.

My questions are do you think Trump's ability to not attend a debate yet still gain political advantage a reflection of the weakness of debates? How much do debates matter if the leading candidate can
choose when or if he wants to participate?


Jared Mayerson said...

I think participating in debates has a little effect on gaining and maintaining voters but that not participating in debates, especially for a reason like Mr. Trump's, has a larger, negative effect. Mr. Cruz's criticisms of Mr. Trump are valid in my opinion. Mr. Trump is campaigning to become the President of the United States, a job in which he would be constantly watched and criticized by the public eye, and has already shown that he cannot easily face this. Whether or not Ms. Kelly was out of place (which I definitely think she was not), Mr. Trump needs to act mature and not be bothered by questions he doesn't like. It's free speech and a presidential candidate should know this. Not only that, but Mr. Trump also lashed out at her, insulting her competence as a journalist and threatening CNN. I do believe he might actually not attend this debate due to having another commitment the same day but, putting his hateful speech and actions aside, I think that this behavior shows that he is not fit for the presidency.

Juliana Stahr said...

Great post Charles! I agree with Jared on his stance that Trump is hurting his campaign by not showing up to the debate. I strongly believe that presidential debates allow voters to really hear what presidents believe among various issues. This is a way for people all over the country to decide whether or not a certain candidate would be a strong fit for president. I think by not showing up to the debate, Trump is ruining his chances of being elected president. Not only does this show his lack of consideration for presidential debates, but it also shows how much of a joke his campaign is. This type of behavior is childish - in my opinion - and simply supports the notion that Trump would make a horrific president. That being said, Trump is also known for this type of behavior. And some people (mostly Trump supporters) find these tactics to be quite amusing. Unfortunately, the 2016 election is not a middle school drama fest, but rather an election that we must take seriously. I hope this opens up the public's eyes to such foolish people who are running in this campaign. To answer Charles's first question, if Trump's poll ratings go up, I do not think something is wrong with presidential debates. I say this because presidential debates are a way for the public to get an idea of the various opinions of certain presidents. Sometimes after a presidential debate, people completely despise a certain president for their viewpoints. If Trump doesn't show up, well the public just doesn't get to know more about his stances on different topics. The debates do matter. If one person doesn't show up to a debate, it looks more poorly on the candidate then on the debate itself. Debates are essentially free media and I believe all candidates should take advantage of this time to really educate and inform the people about what they plan to do as president. If one doesn't use that resource to their advantage, well then maybe that person is not a good fit for president.


Sameer Jain said...

Considering both the things that Trump has said in the past, I’m not sure if anything will really affect his political standing. He’s said and done many things that people originally thought would put him out of the race, but he’s still in relatively good standing with his voter base. Like Charles said in his post, nothing about Trump’s campaign has been conventional. Because of this, I do not really think we can use his campaign as some sort of statement about the effectiveness of debates.

If we look at the basis of Trump’s current success, it would be his ability to say things that make so many people talk about him. He seems to be a firm believer in the idea that “all publicity is good publicity,” which seems to have done him much good in this race. Considering this, I think that him avoiding the debate is a mistake, as it takes away his chance of saying something that will get him at the headlines of several publications. However, if Megyn Kelly goes straight for Trump’s throat again, it might be bad news for him, in which case it would be a smart move for him to ditch the debate.

I think that debates should remain optional for candidates, as the purpose for the debates is to try and gain voters. The debates are usually events that candidates want to go to, as it allows them to potentially sway the voters that have not settled for a candidate yet. If one of the candidates does not want to take advantage of this opportunity, it’s their loss, but also their choice.

In Trump’s case, for the most part, people want to see Trump at the debate to watch the other candidates shoot him down once and for all. If he thinks that he will benefit from not going to the debate, it ought to remain his decision. That being said, I think that debates definitely do matter for other candidates, even if it’s not mandatory. I think the debates will be interesting even without Trump there.