As in the first four GOP presidential primary debates, front-runner Donald Trump is expected to skip the event in favor of participating in another event at the same time.
When the remaining candidates who qualified met the Republican National Committee’s requirements appear on stage for a debate hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash on Wednesday, Trump is reportedly scheduled to take part in a Fox News Channel town hall event.
According to details released thus far, network personalities Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier will serve as the moderators for the Trump event.
The choice struck BizPacReview’s Tom Tillison as “peculiar” considering Trump’s critique of Baier’s behavior during an earlier interview.
“When I did the interview with Bret, I thought it was fine,” he said during a Newsmax TV appearance in June. “I thought it was OK, but there was nothing friendly about it. You know, it was nasty. And I thought I did a good job. I’ve been given credit for doing a good job.”
Trump Blasts Bret Baier’s Interview: ‘There Was Nothing Friendly About It, It Was Nasty’ pic.twitter.com/uv40bDakcE
— Alexandra Datig | Front Page Index 🇺🇸 (@alexdatig) June 27, 2023
Trump went on to claim that “everything was a hit” from Baier, adding: “No smiling, no ‘Let’s have fun; let’s Make America Great Again.’”
Baier, on the other hand, shared a slightly different account of the experience.
“Immediately after the tape stopped, [Trump] said that he thought he was strong in the interview,” the host recalled in a subsequent interview. “And he said it was tough but fair. I made sure to get some of that on camera. He has since [claimed] it was nasty or not nice.”
During the same Newsmax interview, Trump lashed out at Fox News Channel in general as a “hostile network” and explained his rationale for skipping the primary debates.
“If you’re leading by 30 or 40 or 50 points, what’s the purpose of really doing it?” he asked.
Trump’s commanding lead over the rest of the primary field has remained intact over the course of the intervening months.
Most recently, Trump skipped the fourth debate in Alabama last month to host a Florida fundraiser. The previous month, he opted to hold a political rally as his GOP rivals gathered for the third debate, both of which were also in Florida.
During that event, he addressed those who have criticized his strategy of bypassing the debates.
“Somebody said — one of the dumber ones — ‘Oh, he doesn’t have the courage to stand up,’” Trump said. “Well, listen, I’m standing in front of tens of thousands of people right now and it’s on television. That’s a hell of a lot harder to do than a debate.”