Pundits and opponents are trying to paint Donald Trump as being scared of Megyn Kelly, angry at Fox News, or both. That’s why they believe Trump is skipping the debate. In reality, he’s just being smart.
Debating hasn’t been his strongest suit. While he performs well when the topic is entertaining, any time the questions turn substantive, he comes across as seeming uninformed, liberal, or over-ambitious. The Fox News Iowa debate is likely going to focus more on substance and policy issues. Trump cannot gain from exposing his ignorance. He could only lose.
This is not dissimilar to the strategy employed by Ronald Reagan in 1980 with the Iowa debate prior to caucus. There were three differences, though:
- Reagan didn’t have an excuse such as Fox News. He was simply advised that his lead was large enough.
- His lead was much larger that Trump’s; he was ahead of George H. W. Bush by over 20 points.
- Fewer people were watching those debates.
Neither the differences nor similarities bode well for Trump. Reagan ended up being upset dramatically by the decision.
There’s another difference. The polls, which favor Trump, will be questioned. This is the ultimate reason for him skipping the debate. It’s his scapegoat. He will attempt to use the “unfairness” of the Fox News debate as an excuse for losing Iowa.
Don’t believe me? Watch how it plays out.
Trump is smart. He knows his supporters will rally around his decision. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain after Iowa by deciding to forego.