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Trump confirms he will not participate in first GOP debate, teases possibly skipping more

<i>Reba Saldanha/Reuters</i><br/>
Reba Saldanha/Reuters

By Kristen Holmes, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Former President Donald Trump confirmed Sunday he will not participate in the first Republican primary debate this week.

Stating that the public already “knows who I am,” Trump wrote on his social media platform: “I will therefore not be doing the debates!”

It was not immediately clear whether Trump meant he will sit out all currently scheduled debates – there is a second GOP primary debate set for September – or any and all future debates.

A Trump adviser told CNN that the former president could still decide to participate in a later primary debate, despite his post.

Trump has told a number of allies that he does not want to debate at the Reagan Library, the location of the second debate, and complained in private conversations that he has never been invited to speak at the venue, blaming, in part, the chairman of the board of trustees, Fred Ryan. Ryan was the chief executive officer of the Washington Post.

Wednesday’s primary debate is the first of the 2024 cycle. For weeks the former president has privately and publicly floated skipping it, given his lead in the polls. Multiple sources familiar with Trump’s plans previously told CNN he is planning to sit for an interview with former Fox News Host Tucker Carlson instead.

Still, Republican officials had been publicly seeking to convince Trump to join the debate stage as recently as Sunday morning.

Hours before Trump posted, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said she hoped he would debate. “I’m still holding out hope that President Trump will come. I think it’s so important that the American people hear from all the candidates,” McDaniel said on Fox News.

McDaniel and David Bossie, who is in charge of the RNC debate committee, visited Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey, home in recent weeks to encourage him to participate, according to a Trump adviser. The former president was noncommittal on his plans during this meeting.

Fox News president Jay Wallace and the network’s chief executive, Suzanne Scott, had also encouraged Trump to participate in the debate.

To qualify for the debate, candidates must have at least 40,000 unique donors, with at least 200 unique donors per state, and must reach at least 1% in three national polls meeting the RNC’s requirements or at least 1% in two national polls and two polls from separate early voting states.

Candidates are also expected to sign a loyalty pledge expressing their commitment to unite and back the eventual Republican nominee, regardless of who that is.

To this point, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have all qualified.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct Sen. Tim Scott’s title.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Jack Forrest contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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