President Donald Trump announced on January 26th, 2020 that he will not be attending the upcoming Republican debate in Iowa on February 6th, 2020. Instead, he will be holding a competing town hall event which will be broadcast live on a major cable news network. The town hall event will be held at the same time as the debate, suggesting that Trump is seeking to draw attention away from the same members of his party that will be debating.
Trump’s move is seen as an effort to maintain his dominance over the crowded presidential field and to influence the direction of the Republican base. In addition, it could be seen as an attempt to avoid tough questions from either the moderators or the other candidates in the debate.
Several members of the Republican Party have expressed their displeasure with Trump’s decision. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted that Trump is “trying to avoid being held accountable,” while Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) called it “a mistake” and urged Trump to reconsider.
Ultimately, however, it appears unlikely that Trump will change his mind. The Iowa Caucuses are the first test of the 2020 election season and thus it will be a highly watched event. Trump’s decision to skip the debate and hold his own town hall will likely be a key factor in drawing attention from viewers across the country.