Log In

Reset Password
Opinion Editorial Cartoons Op-Ed Editorials Letters to the Editor

Our View: Trump should be on debate stage

“Enough about me” are words you’ll likely never hear coming from Donald Trump. Still, we insist that Trump run a presidential campaign focused on America’s problems, not his own.

So why didn’t Republican voters – especially the Make America Great Again-Again faithful – demand that Trump debate tonight?

We’re not asking the Republican National Committee leadership. We’re not asking Colorado’s GOP leadership.

We’re asking Trump’s base directly. Where was the anger after he refused to square off with his rivals, ready to talk policy and governance?

We know Fox News tried hard to persuade him onto the debate stage. (Fox Corp. must be feeling pretty burned after supporting Trump for years to the tune of $787.5 million, its settlement with Dominion Voting Systems after Fox’s baseless claims of a rigged 2020 election.)

Whether or not Trump is in the lead, we’re ready for a good, strong race to the White House. It’s time to get on with this campaign, see who will break from the pack and gain momentum by fall en route to the GOP nomination.

Because even if GOP voters aren’t ready for a political and media world without Trump, it’s time to prepare for one anyway. Moderate Republicans might be swayed after his choice to sit out this debate.

Historically, debates are where we cement impressions and develop gut feelings. We compare and measure how candidates think on their feet, deflect and highlight messaging without the option of opening statements. Trump disrespected his base by not joining candidates ready to work and sweat for that nomination.

No matter that other candidates don’t have Trump’s star power. It takes guts to run for the U.S. presidency and stand up to contenders. Trump’s choice to instead take softball questions from Tucker Carlson is the chicken way out. And posting the interview on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to run concurrently with the debate is rude.

We get that Trump has more to lose than gain in tonight’s debate. Debating was never his strong suit and he’s out of practice. It’s true, he’s on top now in the polls but that could change.

Last week on his website, Truth Social, Trump wrote, “People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate?” The obvious answer – his supporters deserve to have him on that stage, engaged in the debate.

It’s not just winning the presidency; it’s serving in the role – listening to what voters need and want, and delivering. The second presidential primary debate is scheduled for Sept. 27. Trump needs to be there.

Like the candidates who survive tonight, Trump must present his case as to why he should become president – again – more than just because he’s Trump. That’s not enough.

Instead of his legal troubles and circumstances, Trump could answer questions about immigration, gun safety, teacher shortages, diplomatic relationships, and the exorbitant costs of food and housing and health care in this country. It’s time to get down to business. Although supporters revel in Trump’s charisma, the presidency is still a job.

Dynamics within the GOP remain confusing, including within the state’s new GOP leadership, Trump-drunk, too. Like him all you want, but let’s make room for a Republican nominee interested in bettering this country. Can we have some real conversations about how the GOP would lead without Trump?

Whit Ayres, a national pollster in Virginia, puts the GOP electorate at 10% to 15% “Never Trumpers” and 35% or so “die-hard MAGA Trump supporters.” The rest, half or a slim majority of the party, “have doubts about his electability.”

See the running room within these numbers? Anything can happen.

Loyal Trump backers have numbers on their side. Might as well use them to get Trump on that debate stage on Sept. 27.