Donald Trump confirms he will skip first Republican presidential debate

Donald Trump has said for months that he saw little benefit in joining his Republican rivals on stage, ITV News' Robert Moore reports from Washington

Former US President Donald Trump has confirmed that he will be missing the first Republican presidential primary debate.

Writing on his social media website, Truth Social, he said: "The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!"

A spokesman for Trump did not confirm if this meant the former president planned on boycotting every primary debate or just those that are currently scheduled.

The 77-year-old has said for months that he saw little benefit in joining his Republican rivals on stage given his commanding lead in the race.

“Why would I allow people at 1% or 2% and 0% to be hitting me with questions all night?” he said in an interview in June with Fox News host Bret Baier, who will be serving as a moderator.

Trump has been discussing a number of debate counterprogramming options after his repeated criticism of Fox News - which he has previously called a "hostile network".

He has discussed the idea of calling into different networks to draw viewers from the debate, or hosting a rally instead.

Trump's rivals have taken the move as an opportunity to goad him into appearing, worrying that his absence could make them look like second-tier candidates.

Credit: Truth Social/@realDonaldTrump

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is one of the candidates standing in the race, accused Trump of lacking "the guts to show up" and calling him "a coward" if he doesn't.

It is not the first time that Trump has chosen to skip a Republican party debate.

Back in 2016 he pulled out of the final Republican party face-off in Iowa in favour of hosting his own telethon event - he went on to lose Iowa to Ted Cruz.

In 2020, he also pulled out of a election debate against current President Joe Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates asked him to attend virtually because he had tested positive for Covid.

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