The mainstream liberal and conservative media cannot fathom why Trump would want to skip the Iowa debate, but if Trump is smart he will continue to abstain from GOP debates. There is no ‘rule’ that says candidates must debate. But the main reason why candidates debate is not to pitch policy but merely for exposure. However, Trump has more than enough goodwill and exposure, making further debate unnecessary.
By not debating, everyone will be talking about him. ‘Where’s Trump?’ ‘Why is not not debating?’ Hence, he steals the spotlight, which is really what matters in the end.
By not debating, Trump controls the message and the platform. He can leverage the media attention from his refusal to debate to explain why he’s not going to debate, arguing correctly that he would not have gotten a fair shake.
A debate without Trump is otherwise forgettable. As Mike argues, Trump is so effulgent and charismatic, he lifts his competition, too. Without Trump, no one is going to remember what Rubio, Jeb, or Cruz has to say. Some have likened Trump to a rodeo clown, but he’s much smarter than that.
The final debate is probably unavoidable. Debating Sanders should be a cakewalk. All Trump has to do is point to the Soviet Union and Venezuela as examples of why socialism doesn’t work. Sanders will try to explain why higher taxes and more regulation is good for the economy, and Trump using his extensive business experience will articulate otherwise. Trump unlike Sanders, has experience in the private sector, lending credibility to his side. It will be like the October 2012 debate when Romney obliterated Obama.
A debate against Hillary will be harder, owing to Hillary’s superior intellect and policy experience. Hillary has waited decades for this moment, and she’s not going down without a fight. Trump will have to emphasize his charisma and private sector experience and avoid the semantic traps Hillary will likely lay.