Donald Trump hates debate preparation, and he hates being reined in by moderators, political opponents, time limits, and the like. The free-form, "I'm the star" setup of rallies is much more to his liking. If the Republicans on stage at the first debate had treated him like a piñata, lining up to take shots at him while he was unable to defend himself, then he might have shown up for the second debate. But they didn't and now he won't; he made it official yesterday.
So, how will Trump counter-program the debate? It won't be an interview with that twit... er, that Twitter... er, that X personality Tucker Carlson. No, those two men have limits to how much they can pretend to tolerate each other. Instead, Trump is going to give a speech to 500 or so members of the United Auto Workers. Since the speech will be at the same time as the debate, most likely, the former president will steal a little thunder from the RNC. Meanwhile, he will rail against electric cars, and against the ongoing strike (if it's still happening), promising that it would end overnight if only he were in charge of negotiating. So, in other words, it will also be a poke in Joe Biden's eye. All in all, a pretty clever twofer from whoever is making strategic decisions for the Trump campaign.
That is not to say that Trump will be warmly welcomed by all involved. UAW president Shawn Fain issued a statement that read, in part:
Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers. We can't keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don't have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.
Fain is undoubtedly correct that Trump is not, and never has been, a friend of the working man when it comes to kitchen table issues. That said, it won't be too hard to find 500 union members who think that Trump is their friend on other things, like owning the libs and building the wall. So, the former president should have no difficulty staging his photo op. Meanwhile, those of us watching the debate will be treated to the sight of Vivek Ramaswamy playing the role of Trump Jr. (except without the cocaine), and everyone else attacking anyone but Trump. (Z)