DeSantis says Trump should show up to debates

DES MOINES — Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis says former President Donald Trump “owes it to the voters to show up” for the televised debates among the 2024 candidates and DeSantis says the Republican National Committee should schedule a debate in Iowa in late December or early January.

“You may have some Iowa-specific things that some of the Iowans care about and that’s really what the RNC should be doing,” DeSantis said during an online news conference with Iowa reporters, “so you can put me of favor of bringing the next RNC debate or one of the ones between now and the Iowa Caucus to the state of Iowa. I think it’d be good for the process.”

The next debate will be held November 8 in Miami. Trump skipped both previous debates this fall and has scheduled a rally at the same time as next month’s debate. “Donald Trump should show up to these debates. He’s been totally missing in action,” DeSantis said. “…He’s always on the teleprompter now…When he does go off script, he ends up saying things, like he told people in New Hampshire that they didn’t need to vote, that he already had enough votes or something, which is very odd to do.”

According to DeSantis, Trump’s first debate with Joe Biden had “a real significant impact” in the 2020 election because polling showed Biden gaining ground afterwards and DeSantis suggested that’s why Trump needs more debate experience. “I’m willing to allow him to bring his teleprompter to the debate if that’s what he wants to do,” DeSantis said, “…but he should be on that stage in Miami and subsequent debates.”

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, a candidate who may not make the stage in Miami due to the RNC’s polling criteria, has compared the two previous debates among the candidates to reality TV. DeSantis said regardless of how the debates are managed, he plans to take the opportunity to speak to voters and Trump should do the same. “I think it’s a different guy in 2023 than he was in 2016. I think he was energetic and free wheeling back then,” DeSantis says. “…Now I think most of the stuff he’s talking about is himself and his issues and that’s not the inspiring message that’s going to be able to win the day.”

Vivek Ramaswamy returns to the Iowa campaign trail Friday for an event in Ames. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Sioux City on Sunday.