Donald Trump has made it clear he has no intention to attend the GOP debates, which would include the upcoming third debate, where the field will be cut down considerably.
Vivek Ramaswamy, currently polling fourth overall, is borrowing a page from Trump's playbook, saying he may not attend the debate.
Vivek Ramaswamy was the clear target for most candidates in the last debate, and there was good reason for that.
He made some harsh accusations at the first debate as well as the interim between the first and second debate.
He had also been caught changing his platform like the wind.
While a bit chaotic, the debate took a chunk out of his support. So much so he has slipped behind Nikki Haley nationally and is now in fourth place overall.
Ramaswamy, when asked if he would attend the third debate, stated:
"I'm considering my options."
This came after his campaign asked the RNC to change the format because he was unhappy with how the last debate played out.
Ben Yoho, the CEO of Ramaswamy's campaign, stated:
"Another unhelpful debate in November is not an option. Voters are not well-served when a cacophony of candidates with minimal chance of success talk over each other from the edge of the stage, while the overwhelming frontrunner is absent from the center of that same stage."
The field will be cut down in the next debate, with the upcoming requirements being 70,000 unique donors, as well as 4% in two national polls or 4% in one national poll and two statewide polls in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.
Ramaswamy took a substantial hit after the last debate. He had been creeping up on DeSantis, but now he has been passed by Haley in national polls.
Currently, the GOP order is:
All other candidates are below the 4% threshold for the third debate.
In Iowa, Scott gets into the mix at 5.6%.
In New Hampshire, Christie (9.0%) and Scott (4.0%) would qualify.
In Nevada, only Trump, Ramaswamy, DeSantis, and Haley would qualify.
In South Carolina, only Trump, Haley, DeSantis, and Scott would qualify.
So, at this point, we are looking at a debate stage, assuming Trump and Ramaswamy sit it out, of no more than four or five people. Scott will surely qualify, and Christie and Pence are both in the bubble right now. If there are six people up there, I would be surprised.
I have never hidden my skepticism about Ramaswamy, who I thought was trying to be a different version of Trump to get MAGA behind him.
Initially, it worked, but he was really exposed in the second debate, not to mention a blistering interview he did with Sean Hannity that was a real eye-opener for many people.
I would prefer that he skip this debate because I want to hear more from DeSantis and Haley. I believe they will eventually team up before votes are cast to offer the American people an alternative ticket to Trump. It is also important to hear more from Scott, who would be the ideal VP for Trump.
It serves neither DeSantis nor Haley to go into the first primary independently because they are just handing the early states to Trump at that point. Together, they can keep this a very close race heading into Super Tuesday.
The logical ticket is DeSantis-Haley, but Haley's pride may get in the way of her recent surge. If she does not agree to partner up with DeSantis, both of their campaigns are probably toast after Super Tuesday, barring a massive misstep by Trump that would cost him a significant portion of his support.