Over the weekend, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he has “no problem” with former President Donald Trump skipping the first few primary debates, a shift in opinion since earlier this year.

On Saturday, Ramaswamy declared he’s “fine” with Trump not making an appearance in the first few debates, after saying in May that it would prove Trump’s not the candidate he used to be. 

“This is my chance to introduce myself to the country & so I have no issue with whatever decision he wants to make,” Ramaswamy said, according to a Semafor reporter. “If he’s on there, great. If not, I’m fine with that.”

After hearing some of Ramaswamy’s recent comments, another reporter posted a May 5 clip of Ramaswamy stating his “expectation” that Trump would be a participant. 

“I fully expect to see Donald Trump on that debate stage,” he said at the time. “It is my expectation Trump will be there because as I’ve known him he’s not a man that I know of to be afraid. He’s not somebody who’s made a habit of himself to be a coward.

“But if he doesn’t show up on that debate stage, that will be the best proof that the Donald Trump of today is not the same Donald Trump as in 2016.”

Ramaswamy’s campaign responded to the Saturday comments, telling Fox News that they are “not a departure at all” from his previous statement. Communications director Tricia McLaughlin said, “This is not the only debate.”

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Trump, meanwhile, has yet to confirm whether or not he will participate in the first GOP debate hosted by Fox News, which will take place in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

The Republican National Committee, the organizer for all the presidential primary debates, requires that all candidates pledge to support the GOP’s eventual presidential nominee, in a pledge which reads, “I affirm that if I do not win the 2024 Republican nomination of President of the United States, I will honor the will of the primary voters and support the nominee in order to save our country and beat Joe Biden.”

Additionally, the candidates also must pledge not to run as an independent, write-in candidate or third-party nominee.

Trump, so far, has refused to sign the pledge.

“Why would I sign it?” Trump said in an interview earlier this month. “I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So, right there, there’s a problem.”

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