Former President Donald Trump has no plans to attend any future Republican presidential debates after opting to skip the first two events, a spokesman has confirmed.
Chris LaCivita, a senior adviser to President Trump’s 2024 campaign, confirmed the decision to reporters including The Epoch Times’ Janice Hisle following the Sept. 27 GOP presidential debate.
“He said he’s not going to attend the debates, plural. And that’s his position—until it’s not,” Mr. LaCivita said of President Trump, adding that the debates had become more like a contest for “who’s going to be the designated survivor.”
Seven of President Trump’s competitors appeared on stage during the second primary: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson failed to meet the qualifications for the second debate and did not appear.
However, President Trump, who is currently leading in national polls, opted not to appear on stage for the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Instead, he chose to deliver a lengthy speech to blue-collar workers in a northern suburb of Detroit, Michigan, including current and former members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
Union members last week went on strike against the three biggest automakers—General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis—for the first time in history after failing to reach a deal on a new labor contract. Union members are calling for increased pay, enhanced benefits, and pensions, among other contract changes.
Trump Joins UAW Union Strikers
During his speech at Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township in the battleground state, President Trump noted President Joe Biden’s push to mandate electric vehicles for Americans as part of his clean-energy agenda.
The Republican promised to focus instead on bolstering the American automobile industry, should he be elected to office again.
“I will not allow under any circumstances the American automobile industry to die,” President Trump said.
President Trump also accused President Biden of being a proponent of “ultra left-wing globalism” and claimed his policies would likely see American auto jobs lost to those in China, Mexico, and other foreign nations.
“He’s selling you out to China, he’s selling you out to the environmental extremists and the radical left,” he said. “You’re all on the picket lines and everything, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what you get, because in two years you’re all going to be out of business. Crooked Joe is siding with the left-wing crazies who will destroy automobile manufacturing, and will destroy our country itself,” President Trump continued.
President Trump’s visit to Detroit came one day after President Biden made headlines by joining UAW strikers on a picket line.
In a statement following President Trump’s speech, President Biden’s reelection campaign branded the speech “a pathetic, recycled attempt to feign support for working Americans.”
Trump Speech Branded ‘Incoherent’
“Donald Trump’s low-energy, incoherent ‘speech’ at a non-union factory in Michigan was a pathetic, recycled attempt to feign support for working Americans. Americans have seen him try this before and they aren’t buying it,” Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz told The Hill. “They know who Donald Trump really is: a billionaire charlatan running on empty words, broken promises, and lost jobs. Under Trump, the ultra-wealthy and big corporations got richer, and American families paid the price.”
The Biden campaign spokesman also claimed President Trump “left office with fewer jobs than when he entered.”
“He created incentives for companies to ship manufacturing overseas. And he let China get ahead in the race to the future,” Mr. Munoz said.
Multiple candidates took aim at President Trump’s decision not to attend Thursday’s debate and instead show solidarity with striking auto workers, including Mr. DeSantis, who accused his Republican rival of being “missing in action,” and former Mr. Christie who branded him “Donald Duck.”
However, Trump campaign adviser Mr. LaCivita insisted his decision to skip the debate would do little to sway Americans’ votes.
“I don’t know of one candidate that was on that stage tonight that pushed a thematic or a message that should convince Republican primary voters why they should abandon Donald Trump,” Mr. LaCivita told reporters Thursday.
The third GOP presidential debate is set to take place in Miami on Nov. 8.
Janice Hisle, Joseph Lord, and Emel Akan contributed to this report.