Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, according to the polls, is skipping the first GOP debate. Instead, he is opting for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson as a form of counterprogramming.
The pretaped interview will be available on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, beginning at 8:55 p.m. ET, five minutes before Wednesday night’s debate is scheduled to begin.
The choice is a slight to Fox News, which is hosting the debate, in addition to the rest of the GOP field. Trump, who once praised Fox News for its coverage, has soured on the conservative news network, according to his social media posts. Fox News canceledshow in April, days after the company over its 2020 election reporting.
According to court documents from Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News, Carlson wrote to members of his staff in early January 2021, “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait,” and “I hate him passionately.”
But it was Trump who approached Carlson about the possibility of airing an interview the same night as the debate, the former Fox News host said.
“Whatever you think of Trump, he is, as of tonight, the indisputable, far-and-away frontrunner in the Republican race. We think voters have an interest in hearing what he thinks,” Tucker said in a video posted to social media Wednesday afternoon.
Trump’s appearance with Carlson will air a day before the former president isat a Fulton County, Georgia, jail after he was on charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
For weeks, Trump had said he would not attend the debate and dangled the possibility of an alternate appearance before confirming his plans over the weekend.
The former president has justified skipping the debate by pointing to his sizable lead in the polls. He has also acknowledged that the other Republicans on stage are “not dumb people,” offering a glimpse into the mind of the 77-year-old former reality television star. “What’s the upside?” Trump mused in an Aug. 9 Newsmax interview.
Trump has also said he wouldn’t sign the Republican National Committee’s pledge to support the GOP nominee, one of several requirements for qualifying for the debate stage. Trump said “three or four” of the Republicans running are people he wouldn’t support, although he declined to say who those candidates are.
Recent polling suggests that, despite mounting legal trouble, Trump’s lead is only growing. Ataken this month showed 62% of likely Republican primary voters would choose Trump if they voted today. Voters’ second choice, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, doesn’t come close, with 16%. Everyone else in the field is in the single digits.
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