Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that she believes Donald Trump should attend the first Republican presidential debate, which is scheduled for August 23.

“I think he should be on the state. I want everybody on the stage that qualifies, obviously,” McDaniel told Fox News.

Trump is currently leading the Republican presidential field, 20 points ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Many have speculated that the former president is worried that his opponents may use the debate stage as a way to harp on his recent string of legal woes. Trump is currently facing a 37-count indictment for wilful retention of national security information and received a target letter on Monday notifying him that he is a suspect in the investigation into the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021.

Trump has rejected accusations of cowardice and has instead claimed that the debate would be a waste of his time.

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“I like to debate. I am probably here because of debates. I don’t mind at all,” he said during an interview with Fox News last month. “But when you’re up 40 points… Why would I let these people take shots at me?”

McDaniel argued that the first Republican debate is about more than just poll numbers.

“This is an opportunity for us to contrast our ideas versus the Democrats,” she explained. “It’s not just about the primary, it’s also about the general election because we are going to need independent voters and others to win the White House.”

Trump may not even be eligible to participate in the debates — those that attend must pledge to support the future Republican presidential nominee, which the former president has not agreed to do.

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