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DeSantis knocks Trump for potentially skipping debate, says he's not 'entitled' to GOP nomination

Trump is leaning heavily toward skipping the first debate on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee and is exploring counterprogramming options during the event, NBC News recently reported.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during his campaign kickoff event at Eternity Church in Clive, Iowa, on May 30, 2023.
Ron DeSantis during his campaign kickoff event at Eternity Church in Clive, Iowa, on May 30.Andrew Cabalerro-Reynolds / AFP - Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis chided former President Donald Trump on Wednesday for suggesting he might skip the first GOP presidential debate in August.

DeSantis, who launched his White House bid in May, said in an interview with conservative radio host Howie Carr, that "nobody's entitled to this nomination" — especially if a candidate skips key events.

"You have got to earn the nomination, and doing things like the Family Leader event in Iowa, doing things like these debates, they’re important parts of the process," said DeSantis, adding that he's going to Iowa for the conservative event and will participate in the first debate, scheduled for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee.

DeSantis added, "I’ll be at all the debates because the American people deserve to hear from us directly about our vision for the country."

The GOP governor noted that Trump lost to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

"The idea that he’s just entitled after that, it just doesn’t make any sense. So he should debate. He should go to all these things, and see if he can earn it with his vision," DeSantis said. "I think people need, every candidate needs to be put to the test, and I think he needs to step up and do it."

Trump's campaign did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

NBC News reported in May that Trump was considering skipping the first two debates. The second one is scheduled to be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, but a source said at the time that Trump has bristled at the idea of going there because, in part, the library never invited him to speak.

More recently, NBC reported that Trump is leaning heavily toward skipping the first debate and is exploring options for counterprogramming during the event.

To secure a spot on the debate stage Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, candidates have to fulfill a number of criteria, including pledging to support the party's nominee, meeting polling and donor thresholds and not participating in unsanctioned debates.