President Donald Trump said he would not debate any of his Republican primary opponents Monday.
“They’re all at less than 1 percent. I guess it’s a publicity stunt,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I’m not looking to give them any credibility.”
“They have no credibility,” he said. “One was a person that voted for Obama, ran as a vice president four years ago and was soundly defeated. Another one got thrown out after one term in Congress and he lost in a landslide, and the third one, ‘Mr. Tallahassee Trail’ or ‘Mr. Appalachian Trail,’ he’s the Appalachian Trail, right? The Tallahassee Trail is nice, too, but I think he was the Appalachian Trail, but he wasn’t on the Appalachian Trail, he was in Argentina.”
Trump was referring to his three opponents: former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who ran as Gary Johnson’s running mate on the Libertarian ticket in 2016, former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, and former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, who stepped down as the state’s governor after trying to cover up an extramarital affair by claiming he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
GOP cancels early primaries:
Trump’s statement came after Republicans in four states -- South Carolina, Arizona, Kansas, and Nevada -- announced that they plan to scrap their primary and caucus contests, effectively giving all their delegates to Trump.
Trump defended the move Monday.
“The three people are a total joke. They’re a laughingstock. And I have nothing to do — The four states that canceled it don’t want to waste their money,” Trump said. “If there was a race, they would certainly want to do that. But they’re considered to be a laughingstock. They’re considered to be a joke, and those four states don’t want to waste their money. Having primary campaigns and having a primary election is very expensive.”
Past presidents have also rejected debates:
“Incumbent presidents have not infrequently faced primary challenges from members of their own party. In 1976, former California Gov. Ronald Reagan sought to replace President Gerald Ford on the Republican ticket. Four years later, former Sen. Edward Kennedy took on President Jimmy Carter, and in 1992, hard-right pundit Patrick Buchanan mounted a campaign against President George H.W. Bush. But none of the incumbents agreed to a primary debate,” Yahoo News noted.