Fox News is considering showing video clips of Donald Trump answering questions from other candidates at the upcoming Republican presidential debate, a new report says.
Network moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will moderate Wednesday’s debate in Milwaukee, which Trump said has told his advisers he wants to skip it in favor of an online interview with Tucker Carlson New York Times.
If Trump does counter-program the debate by appearing with Carlson, a former Fox News host who is now at odds with his old bosses, the first major event of the primary season would be an epic battle for viewers.
In response, the Fox team is considering including video clips of Trump in its debate questions and is preparing to interview other candidates about Trump’s recent indictment in Georgia, according to the Times.
It’s unclear exactly which clips they’ll be using – and if Fox is trying to trick Trump into making an appearance.
“If he’s not there, he will still be there,” Baier said Politically this week, indicating the channel’s strategy for a Trump no-show. “In other words, he will take part in the questioning.”
“There can be anecdotes, there can be elements where ‘this is what the area manager says on this subject.'” “He’ll be there even if he’s not there,” he added.
Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will moderate Wednesday’s debate in Milwaukee, which Trump has told his advisers he wants to skip
If Trump (seen in 2018) actually counterprograms the debate by appearing with Carlson, a former Fox News host who is now at odds with his old bosses, it would lead to an epic battle for viewers
The presenters said they have prepared questions for Trump should he attend, but his absence would not fundamentally change the issues they plan to cover.
“Most of the time, we talk about issues as buckets of questions,” Baier said. “The buckets wouldn’t change that much whether he’s in it or not.” “Maybe the interaction between the contestants would change a bit.”
A Fox News spokeswoman declined to comment when reached by DailyMail.com on Saturday.
Along with Trump, these are the candidates who qualified for the first Republican debate Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott and Doug Burgum.
According to a campaign spokesman, Trump’s debate plans have not yet been officially confirmed.
The Republican National Committee has told Trump he has to make a final decision by Monday on whether he wants a seat on the stage.
While Trump dominates the field and is well ahead of his opponents in the polls, some observers are warning that a no-show could give his rivals a chance to create a viral moment and gain momentum.
DeSantis, second by a wide margin in the GOP faction, will look to boost his poll numbers through a strong debate performance
Christie, who is campaigning largely on Trump slurs, has previously spoken out that the lead candidate is unlikely to take part in the debate
Shortly after learning of his third indictment, Trump had dinner at his New Jersey golf club with Fox News executives, who reportedly implied that DeSantis would steal the show in his absence.
DeSantis, second by a wide margin in the GOP faction, will look to boost his poll numbers through a strong debate performance.
However, there are also risks for DeSantis: With leader Trump gone, DeSantis will be the focus of attacks from the rest of the field, and his ability to parry successfully will be crucial.
Meanwhile, Republican strategist and pollster Frank Luntz told DailyMail.com that he believes Trump’s legal troubles may be the real reason the former president skipped the debate.
Trump faces four separate criminal charges and has until Friday to surrender in Georgia, where he was charged with alleged conspiracy to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. He denies any wrongdoing.
“Honestly, I don’t see how he can have a presidential debate. I don’t think his lawyers will allow it. “Every time he speaks, he puts himself in serious legal jeopardy, and a debate is even worse,” Luntz said in an email on Saturday.
“Also, he’s scared of Chris Christie.” “If Trump is arrogant enough to start a debate, Governor Christie will crush him,” he added.
Christie, who is campaigning largely on Trump slurs, has previously spoken out that the lead candidate is unlikely to take part in the debate.
In a post on X, the former New Jersey governor called Trump a “confirmed loser” and a “confirmed coward.”
“If he thinks he should be the nominee, if he thinks he has such a great record, if he thinks he’s the best person to run against Joe Biden, then show up Wednesday night and listen stop being such a coward,” Christie told MSNBC on Friday.
“If what he said was true, that he has a great track record as President and is so far ahead, why don’t you come on stage and do a victory lap?”
For months, Trump has hinted that he would reject the first debate, arguing that he is so far ahead of all his peers in polls that a debate is pointless.
“A lot of people are asking if I’m going to join DEBATES or not?” he posted on Truth Social on Friday. “People know my record, one of the BEST of all time, so why should I debate?” I AM YOUR MAN. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’
In the same post, Trump said that “ALL AMERICANS have been calling for a President of extremely high intelligence.”
“As everyone knows, my poll numbers are exceptional against a ‘wonderful’ field of Republican candidates,” he continued.
“In fact, I’m more than 50 points ahead of the runner-up, whoever that may be.”
Trump has signaled even more strongly that he plans to skip the second debate in California on September 27 over his issues with the host, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.
The library’s prominent speaker series has snubbed Trump but invited his critics, including former Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two now-former GOP lawmakers who will serve on the House Special Committee on Jan. 6.