Donald Trump demands Republicans cancel remaining presidential primary debates
Donald Trump’s campaign is calling on the Republican National Committee to cancel all remaining presidential primary debates, saying the party must “refocus its manpower” on defeating Joe Biden next year.
In a statement late on Monday, senior Trump advisers also repeated debunked falsehoods about election fraud, claiming without evidence that Democrats are working to steal the 2024 election.
He has maintained that the 2020 election was stolen, despite multiple legal cases, investigations and his own attorney general finding no fraud.
In their statement, senior campaign advisers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita say the November debate in Miami and all future debates should be cancelled.
“Anything less, along with other reasons not to cancel, are an admission to the grassroots that their concerns about voter integrity are not taken seriously and national Republicans are more concerned about helping Joe Biden than ensuring a safe and secure election,” they said.
The former president and front-runner for the Republican nomination has skipped the first two debates — with several rivals attacking him for not attending — and said he would not participate in the future.
He is in court this week in New York for a civil fraud trial accusing him of inflating the value of his businesses, a case he has argued is politically motivated.
A spokesman for Florida governor Ron DeSantis rejected the Trump campaign statement about cancelling debates, saying the country “needs a president who will fight for them anywhere, in any forum”.
Mr DeSantis accused Mr Trump in the second debate of not wanting to defend his record on the national debt.
“Donald Trump should defend his record to the American people and debate Ron DeSantis on their vision and specific plans to stop American decline and restore our country,” said spokesman Bryan Griffin. “But Trump knows he can’t defend his record, and he isn’t the fighter he was in 2016.”
RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel declined to answer a question last week about Mr Trump’s call to end the debates during a call with reporters on the launch of the committee’s Bank Your Vote initiative in New York.
The programme, which the Republican party is implementing in states across the US, encourages Republicans to participate in early and mail-in voting — a practice Democrats have embraced but some Republicans, including Mr Trump, have criticised.
Ms McDaniel also brushed off Mr Trump’s continued scepticism of early voting, even after he recorded a video to promote the Bank Your Vote initiative.
“I think we have to take those fights on, but also understand that once it gets to game day, the rules that are on the field are what we need to play by and President Trump is all in on that,” she said.