In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Perino questioned former President Donald Trump‘s decision to speak to former and current United Auto Workers union members in Michigan rather than participate in the debate.
“If you think back to 2015 and 2016, the debates were such a point of strength for him that I think it’s a missed opportunity,” she said.
The debate will also be moderated by Fox Business’s Stuart Varney and Univision’s Ilia Calderon. The Republican National Committee event will take place Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.
“I think everyone would love to have [Trump],” Perino added. “I’m sorry that he doesn’t feel like he wants to be there.”
In particular, she said voters might like seeing him explaining his policy positions directly against his opponents’.
“I also believe in the Serenity Prayer and not worrying about things I cannot control or change,” Perino said of Trump not participating. “And I think this is one of them.”
Trump did not attend the first debate last month either. Following the debate, his stature against opponents in the polls has only increased despite Republicans saying they would’ve liked to see him at the event.
Trump’s speech to UAW workers will take place directly ahead of the second debate. The trip comes as thousands of UAW workers strike against the Big Three automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, in Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. Trump is working to court workers’ votes as blue-collar voters increasingly make up the Republican Party’s base.
The former president did similar counterprogramming of the first debate, sitting for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson which aired minutes before the event.