"I know former President Trump can dance across the debate stage, can defend himself,” McEnany said on Fox News, which is hosting the Wednesday night debate
The 35-year-old Fox News host, who worked as Trump's press secretary in the White House, said on Fox News’ Outnumbered on Monday that she thought his decision not to participate in the debate was a “huge political miscalculation,” per The Hill and HuffPost.
McEnany said that by skipping a debate, "you give others the opportunity to shine. You give others two hours to throw lobs at you.”
“And I know former President Trump can dance across the debate stage, can defend himself,” she continued. “But you’re not there to do it yourself, you’re counting on maybe others to step in.”
She then reportedly referred to a Politico report published in February that noted Republicans’ reluctance to potentially work with the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates, per The Hill, and suggested that this could result in other prominent figures like President Joe Biden opting out of future debates.
“So Biden can say, ‘I’m going to use the Trump precedent here; I’m not showing up; my internal polls show me — show I’m up,’” she said, according to the publication.
Trump confirmed on Sunday that he would skip the GOP’s first scheduled presidential primary debate, and also hinted that he may skip additional debates down the road, according to Associated Press.
“The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had,” Trump wrote on his social media site, Truth Social, adding, “I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!”
He also referenced a new CBS News poll showing that he was leading over other candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his former Vice President Mike Pence, in the Republican primary with 62% of his party's support.
He alluded that he may skip the debates during an appearance on Fox News in June, telling host Bret Baier — one of the moderators of Wednesday's debate — “Why would I allow people at 1 or 2% and 0% to be hitting me with questions all night?”
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Trump has butted heads before with McEnany since leaving office, despite her fiercely defending him during his White House tenure and even insisting — without evidence — that Democrats were "welcoming fraud" and "welcoming illegal voting" after Trump lost re-election.
In May, Trump slammed her on Truth Social after claiming that she “gave out the wrong poll numbers” against DeSantis on Fox News.
"Kayleigh 'Milktoast' McEnany just gave out the wrong poll numbers on FoxNews," Trump wrote. "I am 34 points up on DeSanctimonious, not 25 up.”
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