Would Trump Boycott The Presidential Debates?

President Trump is reportedly considering boycotting the General Election debates next fall.

The New York Times is reporting that President Trump is debating whether or not he’d even participate in General Election debates in 2020:

WASHINGTON — President Trump is discussing with his advisers the possibility of sitting out the general election debates in 2020 because of his misgivings about the commission that oversees them, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Trump has told advisers that he does not trust the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit entity that sponsors the debates, the two people said.

Less of a concern for Mr. Trump than who will emerge as the Democratic nominee is which media personality will be chosen as the debate moderator, according to people in contact with him.

At a state-of-the-race campaign briefing in Arlington, Va., the president’s advisers declined to comment on what their plan was for the debates. One senior adviser to the president seemed to wince at the question, and said it was not something advisers were prepared to discuss until next year.

In the 2016 general election debates, Mr. Trump repeatedly complained about being at a disadvantage to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. And the post-debate polls showed Mr. Trump had good reason to be concerned: Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton were essentially tied in the polls going into the first debate, but she received a bump after each of the three face-to-face matchups.

A Gallup poll conducted after the third debate, for instance, found that 60 percent of viewers thought Ms. Clinton did a better job, while 31 percent chose Mr. Trump.

The Trump campaign has hinted at this before, and also dangled the possibility of not participating in all of the debates back in 2016 only to drop that threat when it came time to participate. As appears to be the case this time, the publicly stated reason for the threat was the alleged concern on the part of the President that he would not be treated fairly by whoever was chosen to moderate the three debates. Back in 2016, though there were many who believed that the real source of Trump’s trepidation was the fact that he was concerned that he would not come across well in a one-on-one debate.

In the end, Trump did participate in all three of the scheduled debates, and it turned out that if he did fear that he could come across looking bad those fears were largely confirmed given the fact that there seemed to be a universal agreement that Clinton had outperformed him in each of them. In the end, of course, it didn’t end up mattering since Trump won the election, but given the fact that 2020 is likely to be a more difficult election for him to win than 2016 was, it’s understandable why he’d been concerned.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Trump is a coward. Of course he is going to skip the debates.

    the President that he would not be treated fairly

    Unless the lickspittles on Fox and Friends are the only moderators, he isn’t going to see anyone as fair.

    Even more concerning is Huckabee trying to troll Democrats with threats of a Trump third term. Likely he was joking…but tell me this…after what we see from Republicans the last couple weeks, in the Impeachment Hearings, is there anyone who could stop him?

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  2. CSK says:

    Seriously, can you see Trump up against Warren? Or anyone, for that matter. He knows nothing, and is incapable of learning anything remotely substantive. What’s he going to do? Call Warren Pocahontas for two hours? Call Biden Sleepy Joe for two hours? The grunting troglodytes who make up Cult45 will love it, but no one else will.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Not sure about can’t but I won’t. I can’t think of a single reason to subject myself to more than the 3 seconds it takes me to turn the radio/tv/computer off every time he shows up on one of them..

  4. Kathy says:

    When Dennison says fair treatment, he means flattery and ass-kissing.

    Being treated fairly is one thing he can’t handle, because it means asking questions and holding him accountable for his actions. And damned if his actions don’t have consequences.

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  5. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I can’t stand to watch anything more than a very brief clip of Trump, either. I suffer too badly from vicarious embarrassment.

  6. Jax says:

    I say if he wusses out on the debates, let’s go ahead and put a cardboard cutout of him on stage, with a screen above his head that shows all his tweets (during the Obama administration AND during the last 3 years) for the given subject matter. The Dem candidate can still make their case, and the undecided’s can see for themselves how stupidly he acts on Twitter. Oh, and a real-time fact checker next to the screen that runs his tweets!

    I suspect a lot of people actually aren’t aware of the random spewing of garbage he engages in on Twitter, unless it’s particularly egregious and makes the news cycle. We should make them aware of it.

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  7. KM says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl :

    Even more concerning is Huckabee trying to troll Democrats with threats of a Trump third term.

    Are you sure it’s the Dems he’s trolling with that? It’s already picking up steam in the MAGAsphere and that’s where the grift money’s at. Need to start priming that pump early…..

    after what we see from Republicans the last couple weeks, in the Impeachment Hearings, is there anyone who could stop him?

    Actually, I do think someone would step in solely because they do NOT want a 3+ term Dem ever, ever again. Now, the nature of that intervention may not be what you’re expecting because I’m fairly confidently that’s a line they’ll never cross because it would be utter disaster for them if they did. Obama Part Three will haunt their nightmares far too much to risk MAGA wrath…..

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: If I see any more than 3 seconds I am embarrassed, physically sickened, confronted with suicidal urges and get this splitting headache all at once every time I see him. Then I have to clean up the mess, put away the gun, and go out and buy a new desk.

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  9. KM says:

    @Jax:

    A great way to piss off Twitter users – force every single one to get everyone one of his Tweets whether you want it or not, complete with notification ding you can’t silence. Even an ardent supporter will get quickly pissed at 100+ unavoidable tweets a day and demand something be done just to make it stop. They might make him resign simply to save the nation’s sanity…..

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  10. Hal_10000 says:

    I maintain that Trump will not wuss out on the debates. The reason is because he thinks he killed it in the last one. He’s surrounded by yes men and they will not tell him how bad he is. He may wring some extremely minor concession and declare victory. But I think he’ll debate.

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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hal_10000: Yep.

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @KM:

    I do think someone would step in solely because they do NOT want a 3+ term Dem ever

    But they are already making Trump a King…placing him above the law, and essentially eliminating a role for Congress…with no regard for what may happen with a Democrat. So I doubt that calculus is in play.

  13. Paul L. says:

    Trump debated the smartest and most experienced person to ever be a candidate for President in 2016.

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  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    Trump debated the smartest and most experienced person to ever be a candidate for President in 2016.

    Nice of you to say…but not really true.
    What is true is that she won the debates…and got 3 million more votes than Trump.
    Dureing those debates she made clear that Trump is a puppet of Putin…and now he will soon be impeached for that.

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  15. Kurtz says:

    @Paul L.:

    And? He performed terribly. Even he thought so when he ripped the paper off his notepad after one of them.

    Of course, that was a moment when he forgot who he was. He just needed to look in the funny mirror in his mind to remember that he is a very very very stupendously super smart fantastic winner.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.: And you voted for the utter idiot anyway. That says a hell of a lot more about you than you like.

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  17. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Non-story of the year. Did anyone seriously believe that Trump would subject himself for the crossfire of a debate, when he can fill every day with a Nuremberg-style rally in a different city?

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  18. Gustopher says:

    With Trump’s declining mental facilities, his handlers will probably do anything they can to keep him from the debates, and try to convince him that by running away, he is being tough.

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    It will depend. I don’t think his ego would allow him to run away from a woman. Misogynists rarely pass up the chance to insult or demean women. He may run from Biden or Bernie or Buttigieg, but he’ll relish the opportunity to spew his bile at a woman.

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:

    Trump debated the smartest and most experienced person to ever be a candidate for President in 2016.

    Yes, and he lost the debates, just as he lost the vote by 3,000,000.

    Fortunately for him, he was saved by the racist-misogynist-moron vote. You know, people like you.

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  21. Paul L. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Yes, and he lost the debates, just as he lost the vote by 3,000,000.

    All votes by illegal aliens in California.
    And Trump will win again by cheating with Foreign help.

    “The argument, ‘Why don’t you just wait?’, amounts to this: Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election?” Schiff said Tuesday, explaining the expedited impeachment effort. “Why not let him have foreign help one more time?”

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  22. Kurtz says:

    @Paul L.:

    I notice you include no citation for the one part of your post that needs it.

    And before you go find a link, right wing paranoia porn doesn’t count

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  23. Mister Bluster says:

    @Paul L.: All votes by illegal aliens in California.

    My brother and his wife live in San Bernardino County CA. She was born in Orange County and grew up so close to Angel’s Stadium she could hear the games through her bedroom window.
    She voted for Hillary Clinton.
    Stop lying.

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  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    All votes by illegal aliens in California.

    You are not smart.

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  25. Kathy says:

    @Paul L.:

    Tómame o déjame
    Si no estoy despierta, déjame soñar
    No me beses en la frente
    Sabes que te oí llegar
    Y tu beso sabe a culpabilidad

    Tú me admiras porque callo y miro al cielo
    Porque no me ves llorar
    Y te sientes cada día más pequeño
    Y esquivas mi mirada en tu mirar

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  26. gVOR08 says:

    This sort of reporting by NYT as quoted above drives me crazy,

    President Trump is discussing with his advisers the possibility of sitting out the general election debates in 2020 because of his misgivings about the commission that oversees them

    How do you, with a straight face report that the reason for a politician doing something is really the reason he or his minions put out? How hard is it to add “aides claimed” or some such? Doug is obviously closer to the truth when he reports,

    Back in 2016, though there were many who believed that the real source of Trump’s trepidation was the fact that he was concerned that he would not come across well in a one-on-one debate.

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  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    And yet you never manage to actually find any illegal votes. Ever.

    But of course that’s reality. In crazytown you make perfect sense.

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  28. Andrew says:

    Trump would need an ear piece to keep him on subject. If Bernie or Warren or Biden get the nod.
    Trump can tout the economy all he wants. But. All it takes is a simple most americans are working more than job. While the stock market may be at a high. Those not already rich or wealthy see nothing from this.
    Trump is going to attack.
    He will be painted as someone who doesn’t care an about the country’s security. Healthcare. And has needed to pay off farmers so they didn’t do bankrupt due to his trade policies.
    Trump will, again, attack. And yet, play victim to everyone and everything.

    He will be impeached long before the debates. He will also be emotional about that.

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  29. Steve V says:

    If he debates, just think of all the interesting people the Dems could invite to sit in the audience.

  30. 95 South says:

    @Michael Reynolds: If you can’t admit Clinton lost, how can we trust you to follow the Constitution.

  31. Jax says:

    The trolls are really killing my irony meter tonight.

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  32. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    My current hypothesis is that irony is related to shame. those who cannot feel the latter cannot see or note the former.

  33. Blue Galangal says:

    @Gustopher: This. He hasn’t been golfing in weeks. He sits most of the time. His left hand seems to impeded in some way. He won’t be capable of debating.