Trump campaign weighing 'counter-programming' options to 'upstage' GOP debate: report

Trump campaign weighing 'counter-programming' options to 'upstage' GOP debate: report
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA - AUGUST 4: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Alabama Republican Party’s 2023 Summer meeting at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel on August 4, 2023 in Montgomery, Alabama. Trump's appearance in Alabama comes one day after he was arraigned on federal charges in Washington, D.C. for his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. (Photo by Julie Bennett/Getty Images).

Editor's note: "upstate" corrected to "upstage."

Former President Donald Trump last week opted out of participating in the Republican National Committee's first presidential primary debate of the 2024 cycle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Wednesday, August 23rd, and Trump's campaign is busy finalizing their alternative plans for "counter-programming" to "upstage" the event, The Guardian's Hugh Lowell explains in a Monday report.

"The Trump team has two overarching priorities for the debate, according to several sources briefed on the situation: to starve the other Republican presidential candidates of attention, and to publicly humiliate Fox News, which is hosting the event with the RNC, because he has been displeased with some of its recent coverage," Lowell writes.

"For weeks, Trump had asked his aides privately and rally crowds publicly whether he should attend the debate or engage in counter-programming efforts in a boastful display of his political strength even after being criminally charged four times," Lowell continues. "The response has overwhelmingly been for him to skip the debate. Trump has told allies he intends to shun the event and that his sit-down interview with the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which he taped in recent days, could be released around the same time."

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Trump "also considered swaggering into the debate at the last minute — without prior warning" and "explored whether Trump could do the ultimate counter-programming by scheduling his surrender to authorities" in Georgia, notes Lowell, where Trump and eighteen co-defendants were indicted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on forty-one felony counts for allegedly conspiring to steal the 2020 election.

Although Trump has until Friday, August 25th to turn himself in, "Trump's lawyers are expected to negotiate the scope of his surrender, including whether the former president will have his mugshot and weight released," Lowell states.

"The Trump campaign have asked the lawyers for there to be no photograph, in part because aides have produced a flattering 'mugshot' which they have used on promotional material, even though Trump once thought getting arrested and photographed would make him look defiant," Lowell adds. He further points out that "the political team has since recalibrated for a potential surrender on Thursday morning followed by a news conference, which they see as additionally beneficial because it would almost certainly drown out coverage of the debate from the previous night."

Lowell highlights that "Trump's decision to spurn the debate on Fox News in favor of an online interview with Carlson marks a new level of hostility with the network" amid the fallout from its $787 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems.

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis a 'terrible debater' whom GOP candidates 'should go after': Republican strategist

View Lowell's article here.

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