Three Reasons Why Donald Trump Will Not Participate In Any 2020 Presidential Debates

Three Reasons Why Donald Trump Will Not Participate In Any 2020 Presidential Debates
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If Donald Trump is still President of the United States by the time general election season comes around, guaranteed he does not participate in any debates.

First, let’s start with that “if.” There is a whole impeachment thing going on right now, so that’s why we felt the need to add if.

Typically here at Unruly Stowaway we don’t cover much politics. Until now we didn’t even have a politics category. Our last story was about IceJJFish, and our next one may be on the Bitconnect Guy, but it’s been a big week in foreign affairs so here we are. Just in case you’ve been too busy binge-watching The Witcher over and over to pay attention to anything else, Donald Trump had Iran’s top military commander, Qassem Soleimani, killed in a drone strike.

While the Trump administration claims the attack was a military attack to prevent war, some say Trump’s actions were a political calculation aimed at his own re-election. In a tweet from November 29th, 2011, Trump said: “In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran.”

Something else that could end up being a political calculation: not participating in general election debates for the 2020 presidential election. Below are three reasons why we do not believe Trump will debate.

1.) Trump has skipped debates in the past.

When running for President in 2016, Trump skipped a January 28th, 2016 Republican Fox News hosted debate because of an ongoing dispute with then Fox anchor Megan Kelly. Trump believed that Kelly had treated him unfairly in a previous 2015 debate. Their original spat helped fuel Trump’s narrative that the mainstream media was against him: a strategy that ultimately benefitted Trump.

Unofficially Trump also skipped a second debate later in 2016. In March of 2016 a debate was scheduled in Utah, but was canceled after Trump, the then clear front-runner for the nomination, said he would not be attending. By this point, there were only two other contenders left actively campaigning. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich said he wouldn’t debate unless Trump did, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz said, “there needs to be more than one participant. So the Salt Lake City debate is canceled.” Trump’s statement about not participating was, “I think we’ve had enough debates.”

This time around, what is to stop Trump from again feeling like he has already debated enough?

2.) The reason Trump skipped last time was because he didn’t like a moderator.

A large theme of Trump’s 2016 presidential run was his contentious relationship with the media. For most candidates, being an adversary of the media would sink a campaign, but not Trump. Trump played up his negative relationship with the mainstream media to his advantage.

While it is unlikely that Megan Kelly moderates any debates this time around, Trump does have have a history with many of the likely moderators. The Democratic debates this year have been hosted by news organizations such as NBC News, MSNBC, CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. The moderators have included: Chuck Todd, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, Lester Holt, Anderson Cooper, and Andrea Mitchell, just to name a few. Each link accompanying the names above link to articles detailing either Trump insulting the given journalist, the journalist insulting trump, or an example of plain overall mutual disdain for each other.

It would be very easy for Trump to claim that the general election moderators are ‘unfair,’ and/or ‘against him,’ and just skip. It is a move that could further fire up his base close to the election without putting himself in a vulnerable position. And what is this vulnerable position?

3.) Last time around Trump’s debate participation was a net negative.

According to a Gallop poll taken after the third general election debate in 2016 60% of viewers thought Hillary did a better job, while only 31% thought felt that Trump performed better.

After the second debate, which was a stand-up, town hall setting, Trump was mocked for seemingly stalking Hillary around the stage like a big orange Michael Myers. Remember?

Photo of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from the second presidential debate
Image Credit: Funny or Die

SNL afterward to the opportunity to recreate the moment in sketch which is largely unmemorable with the exception of the hovering over reenactment. If Trump doesn’t participate in the debates then there is material for fodder. There would be no gaffs from him or anything else for the media to grasp onto.

In Closing:

In 2016, not only did Trump not seem to come out benefiting from the debates but last time his answers were all based on hypotheticals and ideology. This time around if he does debate, he will have a significant record for both the moderators and his opponent to pick apart. When it comes down to it, Donald Trump will make the political calculation that debating will only harm his presidency and chance for reelection.

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Steven Richard

Steven Richard is the publisher here at Unruly Stowaway. He has written a memoir which will be released one day.

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