Former President Trump announced Sunday that he would not be participating in the Republican primary debates, opting instead to do a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, set to air Wednesday evening as his rivals were duking it out on stage in Milwaukee.
As Spencer reported, that interview dropped a few minutes before the first GOP debate began. The 45th president was eager about opportunity to steal the show not only from other GOP presidential candidates, who are trailing him by double digits in the polls, but also from Fox News.
The interview began with Carlson giving Trump an opportunity to explain why he’s not on the debate stage.
“Well you know a lot of people have been asking me that and many people said you shouldn’t do them, but you see the polls have come out and I’m leading by 50 and 60 points and you know, some of them are at 1 and 0 and 2, and I’m saying, do I sit there for an hour or two hours…and get harassed by people that shouldn’t even be running for president? Should I be doing that? And a network that isn’t particularly friendly to me frankly, you know, they were backing Ron DeSanctimonious like crazy and now they’ve given up on him, it’s a lost cause. … I just felt it would be more appropriate not to do the debate…”
At the time of writing, the 46-minute conversation amassed more than 154 million views, with about 75 million views coming in just the first 20 minutes. According to X, this number includes anyone who who views a post – those who scroll past, watch a little bit, and those who watch the entire interview. If it’s seen more than once, multiple views are counted.
A statement released from the Trump campaign after the debate said the former president won. “President Trump won this evening’s Republican debate in dominating fashion,” said the statement attributed to Trump campaign senior adviser Susie Wiles. “More people watched President Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson than the rest of the field on the debate stage combined. Tonight, voters saw a clear contrast between President Trump engaging in a thoughtful policy discussion about what his second term will look like versus 90-second canned sound bites and platitudes from the debate stage.”
Wiles’ statement continued: “What is clear after the dust settles: none of the other candidates looked ready to take on Crooked Joe Biden. Only one leader can Make America Great Again, and that’s President Donald J. Trump.”