On March 16, Donald Trump announced he wouldn’t be attending the Fox News Republican Debate to be held on March 21 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“[Instead,] I’m making a major speech in front of a very important group of people,” said Trump in an interview with Fox & Friends. Trump’s campaign said that the GOP front runner would be giving a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee during their annual conference on American policies regarding Israel.
Later that same day, Fox News cancelled their March 21 debate.
Trump has been raising eyebrows since the day he announced his candidacy. Whether from controversial statements or unconventional campaign strategies, many Americans are becoming comfortable with Trump’s antics and are dismissing them as pomp and circumstance, devoid of substance. But could Trump actually have some punch behind his bombastic actions?
Whether or not his latest excuse is more than a political stunt, the fact remains: Trump single handedly shut down a GOP debate. This occurrence is not overly surprising to those closely following politics, especially considering the fact Trump tried to do the same thing two months ago when he skipped the Fox News debate on Jan. 28.
What is concerning to some, however, is that this time around, it worked.
For a man charged with holding hostage an entire political party, Trump is doing nothing to put those accusations to rest. If anything, he’s fanning the flames.
“I think we’ve had enough debates,” said Trump in an effort to dismiss his declared absence. “How many times can you answer the same questions?”
Nevermind that the Republican National Committee (RNC) decides how many debates are scheduled and when they are to take place; this front runner’s actions seem to suggest he’s guilty of the accusations his critics levy.
It’s unclear whether or not Trump’s recent actions were the result of his eight-month-long feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
The feud started on Aug, 6 during the first GOP debate when Trump felt he was unfairly targeted by Kelly with difficult questions regarding his comments on women. Since then, Trump skipped one Fox News debate on Jan. 28 but participated in another at the beginning of March.
In the March 3 debate, Kelly showed the audience videos of Trump directly contradicting himself just days apart on a number of issues. The moderators also questioned Trump about where funding would come from in some of his plans. When he answered, they displayed charts and graphs disproving what he just said.
This resulted in Trump, once again, accusing Fox News of treating him unfairly.
Ethics and political opinions aside, it was, by all estimations, a smart move. Trump leads the race for the nomination by more than the sum of the other two remaining candidates, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
At this point, nothing short of the blunder to end all blunders can prevent Trump from winning the nomination.
This never-before seen situation begs an important question: How will the Republican leadership handle their predicament? With murmurs of a contested convention being combated by murmurs of riots, a candidate has never garnered so much support from responding to threats with threats.
Traditionally, the high road was considered more fitting of a presidential candidate. In the midst of an unpredictable election season, one thing is obvious from what’s transpired in recent weeks.
Like it or not, Donald Trump is a force to be reckoned with, and regardless of how senile some may think his words to be, they now carry significant weight.
As Americans view Trump’s metamorphosis from facetious to legitimate, it’s important people redress the way they’ve been conditioned to think about him. He’s now a legitimate candidate for President of the United States; his words and actions must be viewed in that context.
It remains to be seen whether or not the RNC will attempt to schedule more debates. With the race for the nomination wrapping up and the remaining primaries spread few and far between, the most important event to look for is a contested convention in July when the delegates meet to select the nomination.
Will the delegates be freed from their provincial obligations and instead be up for grabs, or will Trump run away with the nomination and face the likely Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
Jonathan Deemer is a freshman International Relations major.