The first debate in Milwaukee is set to air on Aug. 23 on Fox News. Trump has teased multiple times that he is considering not showing up at all, claiming that his high polling compared to other 2024 hopefuls already guarantees his nomination. (Related: Polling indicates Trump's nomination by the Republican National Convention is ALL BUT GUARANTEED.)
"He and his advisors sort of feel like, 'Oh, he's way ahead. Why take the risk? Why dignify these other opponents by stepping on the stage?'" explained journalist Krystal Ball.
On the Wednesday, Aug. 9, episode of "Fox & Friends," the show hosts turned a lot of their attention to Trump's hints that he might not wish to join the debate. They pointed out that, during a recent campaign event in New Hampshire, Trump asked the audience whether or not he should show up at the debate, to which the crowd gave a rather mixed response.
In previous public appearances, Trump repeatedly indicated that he would skip the Fox News-hosted debate, even indicating in one interview that it would be "stupid" to attend. He has also repeatedly taken shots at the network, calling it "fake news" and trashing debate co-moderator Bret Baier. He even threatened to directly compete with Fox's broadcast by sitting for a livestreamed interview with fired Fox News host Tucker Carlson during the entirety of the debate.
The latest polling puts Trump at more than 50 percent support among Republican primary voters, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a very distant second place at 16 percent.
The "Fox & Friends" hosts spent the Wednesday episode of their show making arguments for why it would be important and beneficial for Trump to attend the debate.
"People want to see Trump debate," said host Brian Kilmeade, who then went on to praise Trump's performance in the Fox News-hosted debate between him and President Joe Biden back in 2020, claiming that he now felt Trump clearly won in retrospect.
"What I did recently was watched back the debate with Joe Biden where I thought he didn't do well," said Kilmeade. "The more I realized he actually did well. Much better than you would think. But the moderator [Fox News anchor Chris Wallace] kept interrupting, number one, and number two is, Joe Biden just kept lying."
Host Steve Doocy believes Trump will show up due to the possibility of reaching out to more Republican voters and not wanting to waste the chance to attack his opponents head-on.
"I just don't see Donald Trump sitting at home watching along with 40 or 50 million Americans when he sees Ron DeSantis in that center square," said Doocy. "That would absolutely drive him crazy."
Meanwhile, host Ainsley Earhardt pleaded with Trump to not "punish" Republicans because he is angry with several of the other candidates for seemingly siding with the Biden administration's current legal attacks against him.
"I know he is angry about everything that he feels this administration and the DOJ [Department of Justice] have put him through, but don't take it out on Republicans, because Republicans want to see him up on stage," she said. "Don't take the voters for granted. Yes, he is ahead by a lot, but to see him up on the stage would just be wonderful."
Later in the day, during an episode of America's Newsroom, debate co-moderator Martha MacCallum attempted to appeal to Trump by playing to his ego, claiming that taking the center stage could give Trump the platform to "look directly at some people on that stage who he has contention with and have a moment to set the record straight."
Fox anchor Bill Hemmer later added that the debate's ratings "will be huge" in an attempt to appeal to Trump's supposed media obsession.
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Watch this clip from "Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar" as hosts journalists Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti discuss how Fox News is practically begging Trump to join the debate.