A spokesperson for the Vivek Ramaswamy presidential campaign has weighed in on former President Trump’s reported decision not to attend next week’s Republican debate in Milwaukee.
“He should do whatever he wants!” said Tricia McLaughlin, a senior Ramaswamy adviser, in a message to The Epoch Times.
The New York Times has reported that President Trump will not be at the event. The outlet said that he will instead be taking part in an interview with journalist Tucker Carlson.
Mr. Carlson did not respond to The Epoch Times’ inquiries about that reported interview. A Trump spokesperson told The Epoch Times that it had nothing to confirm at this point.
Mr. Ramaswamy’s response contrasts starkly with that of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, another 2024 hopeful. Unlike Mr. Ramaswamy, who has defended President Trump in the midst of his recent legal battles, Mr. Christie has staked out a position as a staunchly anti-Trump voice in the primary field.
“Surprise, surprise… [T]he guy who is out on bail from four jurisdictions and can’t defend his reprehensible conduct, is running scared and hiding from the debate stage,” Mr. Christie posted on X.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he is ready for the debate regardless of whether or not President Trump shows up, discussing the topic with radio host Erick Erickson at his event, “The Gathering,” in Atlanta on Aug. 18.
President Trump did not attend “The Gathering.” Mr. Erickson is known as a strong critic of the former president and his online supporters.
“The media would love to see the former president there with the rest of you. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen,” Mr. Erickson said to Mr. DeSantis.
“We’re prepared either way,” Mr. DeSantis responded, adding that, “it is what it is.”
“I think everyone should debate. If you qualify, I think you owe it to the people to put out your vision, to talk about your record, [and] answer questions about your record and decisions that you may have made or not made. And if you’re not willing to do that, then I think that people are not going to look kindly on that,” he continued.
“I’m excited about doing it because most of what you do in this process is filtered through media, and seldom do you get the opportunity to speak directly to this many people,” he added, projecting that the event could attract 10 million, 15 million, or even more viewers.
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley had no new response when asked about President Trump’s reported intention to skip the debate.
Former Vice President Mike Pence’s communications director, Devin O’Malley, told Politico that he is eager to debate his previous boss if he “has the courage to show up.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to Mr. O’Malley regarding those comments and the latest report on where President Trump may be as events unfold in Milwaukee.
The Epoch Times has also reached out to Sen. Tim Scott’s team.
President Trump has alluded to the upcoming debate on his Truth Social platform, suggesting that he and his campaign do not need the event based on his poll numbers.
“People know my record, one of the best ever, so why would I Debate? I’m your man. Make American Great Again!” President Trump posted on that website on Aug. 17.
The Republican National Committee’s qualifications for the debate include a written pledge to support the party’s eventual candidate.
Jackson Richman contributed to this report.