DeSantis says he’s prepared for debate regardless of Trump attendance
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he is prepared for next week’s first Republican primary debate regardless of whether former President Trump attends.
“We’re prepared either way,” DeSantis told conservative radio talk show host Erick Erickson during an interview at a conference in Atlanta.
Trump has strongly hinted that he plans to skip the first debate next week in Milwaukee, pointing to his status as the clear front-runner in the race and taking issue with the host network, Fox News, as “hostile” toward him.
The former president further raised speculation he would skip it with a Thursday post on Truth Social, saying “People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate? I’M YOUR MAN. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
DeSantis said every candidate who meets the Republican National Committee’s requirements for the debate should participate, arguing that candidates “owe it to the people to put out your vision,” discuss their record and answer questions about it.
He has been one of several Republican presidential candidates who have called on Trump to attend over the past weeks as the former president has indicated he might skip it.
“If you’re not willing to do that, then I think people are not going to look kindly on that,” DeSantis said.
He said most of the candidates’ speeches are “filtered” through media, but the debate will be an opportunity for candidates to speak directly to the voters. He added that he hopes the debate will be focused on the country’s future instead of “some of the other static that’s out there right now.”
“Because a lot of the static, a lot of the things about looking backwards, that is not going to help us secure this border. That is not going to help these middle-class families who are struggling to afford groceries. It’s not going to help them get better … it’s not going to help with any of that,” DeSantis said.
He said earlier this month that the 2024 election needs to not be a referendum on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and the classified and sensitive documents investigation into Trump, or Republicans could lose the race.