Fox News, which is set to host this election cycle’s first Republican presidential primary debate this Wednesday, has restricted President Donald Trump’s surrogates from accessing the debate venue’s “spin room.” This move follows Trump’s announcement that he will not be participating in the debate, opting for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson instead.
While Trump has chosen to skip the debate, citing a commanding lead in most GOP primary polls, several key supporters have indicated they will attend. Notable names include Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Byron Donalds (R-FL). Additionally, Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle had plans to conduct media interviews for the Trump team and promote the former president on their Rumble shows.
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) August 22, 2023
Traditionally, the “spin room” is a hub for candidates’ aides and supporters to make their case to the media, often highlighting their candidate’s strengths and critiquing opponents. The decision by Fox News effectively prevents Trump’s team from representing him in this crucial media space.
In defense of its stance, Fox News stated that post-debate credentials would be available only for “participating candidates/campaigns,” as revealed by a memo obtained by Axios. While the network’s decision might seem reasonable on the surface, it raises questions about equitable representation and fairness to voters.
Members of Trump’s campaign, including his senior advisers, were also planning on being in the spin room.
But Fox News is in charge of credentials for the spin room. The RNC manages credentials for the actual debate, and sources said those tickets are still expected be honored.
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) August 22, 2023
Yet, Trump’s surrogates remain optimistic. Alayna Greene noted that Trump’s team “believe they will be able to find new credentials” and “are confident they will be in the spin room on Wednesday.” This confidence may stem from the fact that while Fox News controls credentials for the spin room, the Republican National Committee (RNC) manages those for the actual debate. Hence, Trump’s surrogates still expect their debate tickets to be honored.
Despite Trump’s absence from the debate, his influential presence in the GOP is undeniable. Recent polls continue to demonstrate his dominance. A South Carolina poll showed him leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by 34 points. Moreover, a Harvard Harris poll revealed Trump not only leading within the GOP but also holding an advantage over Joe Biden in a potential general election matchup.
The debate will feature a robust slate of Republican candidates, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, DeSantis, Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel expressed her excitement to “showcase our diverse candidate field” and the GOP’s vision to beat Joe Biden.
While the decision by Fox News to restrict Trump’s surrogates from the “spin room” has sparked conversations around media access and fairness, it’s evident that Trump’s influence and the enthusiasm of his supporters remain undeterred. Whether in the spin room or elsewhere, the voices of these surrogates are poised to be heard loud and clear as the election season continues to heat up.