As I noted in my column of several weeks ago, it’s a plus for everyone that Donald Trump will not show for the Republican debate.
And now it’s official. He’s not showing up.
Now we can have a debate about issues and not about Trump.
Let’s also keep in mind, regarding the debate, Republican voters must be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
That is, although the most immediate focus is who will be the Republican nominee, the point of the whole exercise is winning the presidency. It doesn’t much matter if Republicans nominate a candidate who makes them happy but who is unlikely to win the big prize — the presidency.
Although Trump maintains a massive lead in polling among Republicans, the debate presents an opportunity for the other candidates to establish their credibility and viability of their candidacy in the general election.
Let’s recall that Trump’s final approval rating at the conclusion of his presidency was 34%. This is an approval rating that essentially guarantees a victory for the challenging party in the election to follow.
Most recent RealClearPolitics polling shows Biden marginally ahead of Trump, but not in a statistically significant way.
RealClearPolitics betting odds shows Biden at 35.1% and Trump at 26.9%.
It is not without reason that Democrats are doing everything possible to increase the likelihood that Trump is the Republican candidate.
The good news for Republicans is that there remains general dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the country; only 18% are satisfied, per most recent Gallup polling.
President Joe Biden’s approval, measured by Gallup, hovers at 40% and disapproval at 55%.
So, fundamentals look positive for a change in party.
Additional fundamentals that point positive for Republicans is that on issues that are of most concern to Americans, generally Republicans are viewed more positively regarding their handling of these issues.
In recent polling from Pew, Republicans are favored by 12 points on the economy, by 10 points on crime, by 10 points on immigration, by 8 points on the deficit and by 4 points on foreign policy.
Democrats are favored by 14 points on climate change, by 12 points on abortion, by 12 points on health care policy, by 10 points on race, by 8 points on LGBTQ and by 4 points on education.
Of these issues, of the top 10 that poll as “very important,” Republicans are favored in 8 of the 10.
The top issue rated “very important” is inflation, which might be understood as the economy in general, and Republicans say this is very important by a margin of 25 over Democrats.
What should these Republican candidates who will be taking the stage in this debate be thinking about?
My advice to candidates is to speak directly to the American people and not be obsessed with how they look relative to other candidates.
Jean Monnet, the founder of the European Common Market, which evolved to become the European Union, observed that there are two kinds of people: those who want to be someone and those who want to do something.
Aspirants to the nation’s highest office should be asking themselves why they want it. Do they want to be someone? Or do they want to do something?
The American people are looking for a leader whose motivation is the mission of country, its operation, and the quality of life of American citizens. They are looking for a leader dedicated to fixing and improving our country and not someone who really, deep down, is trying to solve some kind of personal need for fame and recognition.
The problems of the nation are great. Voters can sense those who genuinely care about the country and about them and who have the right ideas.
This is what candidates should have in mind. Those with an honest and sincere heart and a right-thinking mind will connect positively with voters.
Star Parker is President of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the weekly television show “CURE America with Star Parker.”