Donald Trump has been non-committal about whether he’ll attend upcoming GOP primary debates, and he’s taken a lot of flack from other people for it.
Now, one of his primary challengers in the GOP race is trying to goad him into participating.
This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Trump should participate in the GOP’s first presidential debate, which is scheduled for August. On Wednesday, DeSantis said “[Trump] needs to step up and do it.”
While being interviewed for “The Howie Carr Show,” DeSantis commented:
“Nobody is entitled to this nomination. You have got to earn the nomination and doing things like The Family Leader event in Iowa, doing things like these debates – they’re important parts of the process.
“Every candidate needs to be put to the test, and I think he needs to step up and do it.”
Tucker Carlson, the former anchor for Fox News who was surprisingly fired from his job a few months ago, was set to host a forum this week in Iowa. Trump didn’t attend, with his campaign saying that they had a conflict with scheduling.
As part of his Wednesday interview, DeSantis took more direct aim at Trump, saying that he failed to deliver on some of his biggest promises during his term in the White House. He promised that he would be “draining the swamp” in Washington, D.C., and would be “building the wall.”
DeSantis also said that some of the ideas that Trump is proposing for a prospective term in the White House, such as allowing parents to elect principals for schools, “are not good ideas.”
The Florida governor said:
“So, he should debate. He should go to all these things and see if he can earn it with his vision.”
It didn’t take long for the Trump campaign to fire back at DeSantis’ comments. Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, emailed media outlet The Hill and said:
“[DeSantis] should focus on his own flailing campaign rife with internal conflict and subversion among his closest supporters, instead of throwing a temper tantrum because he is losing so badly.
“He doesn’t have an original thought in that minor league brain of his, so that’s why he’s been stealing President Trump’s policy ideas from Day One.”
That first GOP presidential debate is scheduled to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 23. Trump hasn’t formally committed to participating in the event.
Trump’s pending participation isn’t the only controversial thing about the debate, though. Some Republican candidates aren’t happy with parts of the criteria that have been set for candidates to qualify to take the debate stage.
One of the criteria in particular is that all participants will need to sign a pledge of loyalty that says they’ll support whoever the GOP presidential nominee is. That’s an issue for some of the candidates, who seemingly wouldn’t support Trump if he were named the party’s nominee.
Trump himself, in fact, hasn’t committed to whether he’d back a GOP nominee if it weren’t him.