It appears that a new talking point on Trump skipping the Iowa debate is that Reagan did so as well and went on to win the Republican nomination.
Let me give you some background on that event. Richard Allen wrote this article back in 2007. I’ve quoted it many times online, because a major point of this article was about Reagan’s principled pro-life stand in the face of Sears telling him it wasn’t politically expedient, but this nugget about the Iowa caucuses should be noted in light of today’s political spin on Trump.
Reincarnating Reagan by Richard Allen
…One such meeting on the topic took place in December 1979 at a hotel at Los Angeles International Airport, the final briefing and strategy session before the presidential campaign began in early 1980. It was a small group that met, chaired by then-campaign manager John Sears, who had earlier succeeded in driving off several key Reagan folks such as Michael Deaver, Lyn Nofziger, and Martin Anderson, and was working on getting rid of others. Sears insisted that Reagan would not participate in the Iowa caucuses, principally because it was a “beefcake show” and Reagan would win anyway. No one contested the Sears mandate, though it was apparent that Reagan was not entirely comfortable with the assumption that his absence would not be noticed.…
Sears was wrong about the Iowa caucuses (Bush won and gained “big Mo,” for “momentum”) and Reagan lost; he was wrong that it was clever to spend nearly all the campaign money up front, and became increasingly estranged from the candidate (and, importantly, Nancy Reagan). Thus Sears was unceremoniously fired by Reagan at 4pm on the very afternoon of the New Hampshire primary, which Reagan won (because after the Iowa disaster, he took direct control of the New Hampshire campaign).
I also want to point out Michael Reagan’s take on Trump.
Today–he hasn’t changed his mind.