In a move that underscores his unorthodox approach to political campaigning, former President Donald Trump has once again sidestepped the traditional debate stage, opting instead to engage directly with his base at a rally. On November 8, as Republican candidates gathered for the third presidential primary debate, Trump was notably absent, hosting a rally a mere 10 miles away. His message to the attendees was clear: the debates are "not watchable," and he has no intention of participating in the upcoming one either.

Trump's rally in Miami drew a crowd of supporters who cheered his decision to bypass the debate, which he dismissed as the "lowest-rated debate in the history of politics." This marked the third debate Trump has chosen to skip, favoring his own events over the formal debate setting. Despite this unconventional strategy, Trump maintains a significant lead among likely Republican voters, with Real Clear Politics reporting his average support at 58.5%, far ahead of his closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who trails at 14.4%.

The former president addressed rumors questioning his courage for not debating his rivals head-on. In a defiant response, Trump asserted that speaking in front of thousands at a rally was a more challenging and courageous act than participating in a debate. His top aide, Chris LaCivita, confirmed to reporters that Trump would not be attending the fourth debate scheduled for December in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The context of Trump's decision is set against a backdrop of recent GOP losses in Kentucky and Virginia, as well as a significant win for abortion rights in Ohio. Trump attributed the loss of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to his association with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite having endorsed Cameron himself. He also claimed credit for the reelection of Governor Tate Reeves in Mississippi.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has announced that NewsNation, "The Megyn Kelly Show," the Washington Free Beacon, and Rumble will partner for the fourth debate. The moderators are slated to be Megyn Kelly, NewsNation anchor Elizabeth Vargas, and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon.

Trump's approach to the primary debates reflects his broader strategy of direct engagement with his supporters, bypassing traditional media channels and political protocols. His absence from the debate stage does not seem to have dented his popularity among Republican voters, as his lead in the polls suggests. However, it remains to be seen how this tactic will play out in the long run, especially as the political landscape continues to evolve leading up to the 2024 presidential election.