Trump Skips GOP Debate, Engages In A Pre-Recorded Interview With Tucker Carlson – ‘There Was Love In That Crowd’

By: Alec Donaldson | Published: Aug 27, 2023

Breaking from the tradition of engaging in presidential debates, Donald Trump opted for an online interview on Wednesday. This interview was rife with his election falsehoods, verbal assaults on rivals, and effusive commendation for the supporters who later stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Trump, consistently dismissive of democratic norms and drawn to provocative statements throughout his political tenure, explained his absence from the initial Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee by citing his significant lead over competitors in polling data.

Pre-Recorded Interview With Tucker Carlson

Instead, he employed a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson to assert his unique importance while downplaying others.


Source: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a particularly contentious exchange, Trump appeared to entertain the notion suggested by Carlson that his political adversaries could seek to end his life.


"Savage Animals"

“They’re savage animals. They are people that are sick. Really sick. You have great people in the Democrat Party, you have great people that are Democrats,” Trump responded. “But I’ve seen what they do, I’ve seen the lengths that they go to.”


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This provocative statement comes amid Trump’s tendency to extol those charged with crimes related to the fatal riot at the U.S. Capitol and downplay the violence that unfolded that day. He reiterated his praise during the interview.

Trump Commented On The "Love In That Crowd"

Trump commented, “People in that crowd said it was the most beautiful day they’ve ever experienced. There was love in that crowd. There was love and unity,” as he referred to the supporters he addressed before their march to the Capitol on January 6.


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“I have never seen such spirit and such passion and such love. And I’ve also never seen, simultaneously, and from the same people, such hatred of what they’ve done to our country.”

Fundraiser At Trump's New Jersey Golf Club

The night before the interview was posted, Trump addressed a fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club for the Patriot Freedom Project, which supports defendants charged for their roles in the insurrection.


Source: Jonathan Ferrey/LIV Golf via Getty Images

This interview with Carlson was released on Wednesday night on X (formerly known as Twitter), just five minutes before the debate aired.

Attacks On Rivals

Trump initiated early attacks on some rivals, labeling former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson as “nasty” and offering him as an example of an unfit candidate, alongside former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Both Christie and Hutchinson have criticized Trump and advocated against his presidential campaign.

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Trump cited his absence from the Milwaukee debate stage, indicating that sitting through an hour or two of harassment from candidates who he believes should not even be running for president is beneath him. His ongoing feud with Fox News Channel, the debate’s host, seemed to reinforce his decision.


Doing An Interview Instead Of A Debate

He asserted during the 46-minute interview, “Should I be doing that at a network that isn’t particularly friendly to me?”

Source: Tucker On X/ YouTube

His third bid for the White House has been characterized by his alignment with those promoting extreme views and conspiracies. Trump’s campaign revolves around baseless allegations about the 2020 election. Opting for an interview with Carlson, as opposed to participating in a debate, aligns with this approach.

The former Fox host has propagated the idea that white individuals are being “replaced” by people of color, and he has spread misinformation concerning events such as the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the Ukraine conflict.


Trump's Position Within Republican Party Stands Strong

Trump conveyed to Carlson: “I think it was a terrible move getting rid of you.”

Source: Tucker Carlson/ YouTube

Despite facing increasing legal jeopardy from multiple criminal cases linked to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election outcome, allegations of mishandling classified materials, and hush money payments to conceal extramarital affairs, Trump has maintained a strong position within the Republican party.


Encouraged To Participate

The day following the debate, he is scheduled to appear in Georgia as a defendant in a wide-ranging racketeering case connected to his efforts to invalidate the 2020 election results in that state.

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Before Trump’s decision to skip the debate was announced, several Fox News personalities and executives had encouraged him to participate. While numerous network hosts have supported Trump over the years, he has complained about what he perceives as biased coverage since leaving office.


Whether Trump Will Attend All Republican Debates Isn't Confirmed

His choice to sit with Carlson appears to convey a message to the network that dismissed the host earlier this year. The network did not explain, but the firing occurred shortly after Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems as part of a defamation lawsuit settlement related to the network’s coverage of Trump’s baseless claims after the 2020 election.

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Trump’s team has not confirmed whether he intends to forego all Republican debates. He has expressed displeasure with the location for the second debate in September, set at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, as the foundation’s board of trustees is chaired by Fred Ryan, the publisher and CEO of the Washington Post.


Many Debate Candidates Support Trump

Many of the candidates on the debate stage have embraced Trump’s policies, including his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who criticizes Trump for not fully implementing his policies. Three other candidates—Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president; Nikki Haley, his U.N. ambassador; and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who aided Trump in preparing for debates and led his 2016 transition team—have all worked for Trump.

Source: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Cedric Richmond, former Democratic Congressman and co-chair of President Joe Biden’s campaign, stated, “They’re all playing out of the same playbook and they’re all espousing the same unpopular positions that Donald Trump led with, and he continues to drag this party to the extreme.”