Donald Trump ‘s campaign is calling on the Republican National Committee to cancel all remaining presidential primary debates, saying the RNC must instead “refocus its manpower” on defeating Joe Biden next year.
In a statement late Monday, top Trump advisers also repeated debunked falsehoods about election fraud, claiming without evidence that Democrats are working to steal the 2024 election. Trump 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 canceled.
“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 GOP nomination has skipped the first two debates — as several of his rivals attacked him for not attending — and said he wouldn’t 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 that he has argued is politically motivated.
The RNC did not respond to requests for comment Monday or Tuesday.
A spokesman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected the Trump campaign statement about canceling debates, saying the country “needs a president who will fight for them anywhere, in any forum.” DeSantis in the second debate accused Trump 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 Bryan Griffin, the spokesman. “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 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 program, which the GOP is implementing in states across the U.S., encourages Republicans to participate in early and mail-in voting — a practice that Democrats have embraced but some Republicans, including Trump, have criticized.
McDaniel also brushed off Trump’s continued skepticism 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.
Burnett reported from Chicago. Associated Press reporters Jill Colvin and Michelle L. Price contributed from New York.