After skipping the undercard debate a couple weeks ago, Rand Paul has been promoted back to the main debate stage for the Fox News GOP Debate on Thursday night. In an ironic turn of events, however, Donald Trump has stated he plans to skip the debate and instead may hold his own Town Hall event in Iowa.

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Fox News Republican Debate

Live Stream:
Location: Des Moines, Iowa

Primetime Debate
9pm ET (8pm CT, 7pm MT, 6pm PT)
Moderators: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace
Candidates: Trump*, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Bush, Christie, Kasich, Paul
*Trump has stated he will not participate in this debate.

Undercard Debate
7pm ET (6pm CT, 5pm MT, 4pm PT)
Moderators: Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer
Candidates: Fiorina, Huckabee, Santorum, Gilmore

More on Trump’s decision to skip the debate from NBC News:

Donald Trump said Tuesday that he “most likely” will not participate in Thursday night’s FOX News-Google debate, citing the participation of “lightweight” Megyn Kelly as well as FOX’s “wise-guy” press release poking fun at Trump’s rhetoric.

“Let’s see how much money FOX is going to make on the debate without me,” he told reporters in Marshalltown, Iowa.

After the press conference, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandoski told reporters that the real estate mogul “will not be participating in the Fox debate” and that it is “not under negotiation.”

“Obviously we would love all of the candidates to participate, but each campaign ultimately makes their own decision what’s in their best interest,” Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer said.

FOX said in a statement that it would still welcome Trump if he decides to attend the debate, “but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.”

Trump told media that he hopes to plan an alternate event raising money for members of the military in lieu of participating in the Thursday night clash.

Trump also blasted FOX News for issuing a sarcastic press release in response to his threats to skip the debate.

The statement from a FOX News spokesperson read: “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

Trump said that response was “written by a child.”

The response from Fox News does seem amazingly unprofessional for what is supposed to be an objective news organization. The press release could have been written by an opposing campaign, many of which have already taken the same line of attack against Trump stating that he couldn’t handle world affairs if he can’t handle Megyn Kelly.

No details yet available at this time as to whether Trump is holding a separate event or if it will be televised by another network.

I’m sure that other candidates like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are tentatively celebrating the fact that with Trump’s absence, they’ll both receive more face time and more time to attack Trump with no rebuttal. It remains to be seen whether this will be a smart move for Trump or blow up in his face if he ends up forfeiting Iowa to Cruz over the Megyn Kelly issue.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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