Earlier this week, Donald Trump’s advisers called on the Republican National Committee to “immediately cancel” all future G.O.P. debates and “refocus its manpower and money on preventing Democrats’ efforts to steal the 2024 election.” Setting aside the baseless and hypocritical nature of that highly alarmist call to arms, the Trump team’s true intention was likely to try and deny his less popular competitors and would-be cabinet members their democratic right to shout over one another on increasingly dismal live television.
Trump, of course, is hardly the only one wondering aloud about how long this unmitigated shitshow must go on. He currently leads the field by a 45-point spread, per the latest RealClearPolitics national average, and national interest in the debates seems justifiably on the wane. The Vivekquake is subsiding, Chris Christie’s best material has already been used, and as my Puck partner Peter Hamby recently noted, the Glenn Youngkin mirage is fading.
Unfortunately, the show will go on, and rightly so. As one R.N.C. member told the Times, everyone is “entitled to have their day,” and you “can’t go change the rules in the middle of the game”—no matter how substantial the frontrunner’s lead. To date, the debates have taken place in the conservative-friendly forum of Rupert and Lachlan’s Fox media empire, but that will change with the third debate, on November 8 in Miami. Three sources familiar with the matter tell me that NBC News is in late-stage negotiations with the R.N.C.—dotting i’s, crossing t’s, etcetera—for rights to host that debate.