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Trump still undecided on first primary debate

Senior leaders of Trump's campaign do not want the former president to attend next week's debate.


Former President Donald Trump has still not decided whether he will attend the first Republican primary debate next week, according to two sources familiar with his thinking. 

The Trump campaign’s senior leadership team is united in opposition to his attending the first debate on Fox News in Milwaukee, echoing Trump's public arguments that he is so far ahead in current polling, there is not much to be gained from attending, according to one of the sources.

But as recently as this weekend, Trump has continued to suggest ideas to aides and associates about counter-programing the debate or to attending it, the sources said. 

Leaders at the Republican National Committee and Fox News have lobbied Trump to attend . Fox leadership pressed the former president to attend at a dinner earlier this month in Bedminster, N.J., according to a source with direct knowledge of the meeting, which was first reported by the New York Times. 

Trump is one of eight candidates who has appeared to meet the RNC's donor and polling thresholds to qualify for the debate.

But Trump has raised questions about whether he would fulfill the requirement to pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee. The former president said last week that he would not sign the pledge because there are "three or four people" he would not support.

Senior staff of Trump’s campaign and some of his closest outside allies believe he will ultimately choose not to attend the debate, but they so far cannot rule out that he will decide to show up. The campaign is preparing for both possibilities, but no single counter-programming strategy has been settled upon at this time.

In the meantime, Trump's campaign has continued to fundraising and drive engagement amid the uncertainty, sending out email blasts asking supporters for their thoughts on the issue.