In a move that has ignited a flurry of reactions, former U.S. President Donald Trump has opted out of the second Republican debate scheduled for next week in California. Instead, the 77-year-old former commander-in-chief has chosen to head to Detroit, Michigan, where he plans to engage with both current and former union members, according to inside sources.
This isn't the first time Trump has sidestepped a debate in the lead-up to the 2024 election, and his absence hasn't gone unnoticed. Critics have taken to various platforms to voice their opinions. One commentator posed the question, "Will Donald Trump finally stop being a coward and show up to debate?" Another was more direct in their criticism, stating, "Trump is a liar, a petulant child, and a failure. Chip in $1, make sure @GovChristie is on the stage so he can expose him." A third observer speculated on the reasons behind Trump's reluctance, suggesting, "Donald Trump is afraid to debate because everybody's going to bring up January 6th and blame him."
Earlier this year, Trump also bypassed another debate. However, he has been vocal about issues concerning auto workers. In an interview with NBC News, he commented on the ongoing strike involving the nation's three largest automakers. Trump opined, "The auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump." This statement didn't sit well with UAW President Shawn Fain, who responded, "Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers."
Despite his absence from the debate stage, Trump remains confident about his standing in the polls. In a conversation with John Catsimatidis, he claimed, "I'm leading by 40 points. A lot of people say, 'Why would you do a debate when you have people at two and three and fifteen and fourteen [percent]?' People don't debate when they have these massive leads."
However, not everyone shares Trump's confidence. Chris Christie, former Governor of New Jersey, believes Trump's reluctance to participate in the debates stems from fear. "Obviously, he's afraid," Christie remarked in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. "He's afraid to get on the stage against people who are serious." Christie further challenged Trump's commitment to the country, stating, "If he really cares about the country - and I have deep questions about that - but if he really cares about the country, then he's going to get up there, and he shouldn't be afraid."
As the 2024 election approaches, Trump's decisions and actions remain under the microscope, with every move analyzed and debated by supporters and detractors alike. Whether his strategy of skipping debates will pay off remains to be seen.