Several sources are reporting tonight that Donald Trump has in fact stated he will not participate in the Fox News Republican Debate on Thursday over questions of whether the candidate will receive fair treatment from the moderators. According to a statement from Trump, the decision has been made and Trump will instead hold a competing town hall event in Iowa on the same night. I am somewhat reluctant to post this news since I’m still not certain that Trump will actually skip this final debate before the Iowa caucus, but anything can happen at this point.
Report from the Washington Post:
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump abruptly announced here Tuesday that he would not participate in Thursday’s scheduled debate, escalating his off-and-on feud with Fox News Channel and throwing the GOP campaign into turmoil.
Trump’s assertion, which his campaign manager insisted was irreversible, came less than one week before the kickoff Iowa caucuses. He once again defied the conventional rules of politics, and used his power and prominence to shape the campaign agenda and conversation.
So far, Trump’s untraditional moves have only expanded his support, but his threatened boycott leaves him open to criticism that for all his tough talk he is ducking face-to-face confrontations with his opponents and scrutiny from the Fox moderators.
Given Trump’s past flirtations with boycotting Fox, many will doubt his declaration until they see the other candidates take the debate stage on Thursday night without him.
The Republican debates have become must-see television, in part because of the allure of Trump’s star power and unpredictable candidacy. But he said Tuesday that he thinks Fox and other television networks have been taking advantage of him by selling advertisements for their debates at a high premium.
“Why should the networks continue to get rich on the debates?” Trump told reporters at a news conference in Marshalltown. “Why do I have to make Fox rich?”
The debate is scheduled to be in Des Moines on Thursday, and Trump said he would instead host a competing event in the state designed to raise money for wounded veterans.
Trump is the first candidate in modern memory to say he would withdraw from a debate at such a consequential moment on the primary calendar.
Trump long has objected to the participation of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as one of the three moderators, claiming she has treated him unfairly with both her questioning of him at last August’s debate and her commentary since then.
The feud with Fox anchor Megyn Kelly went on for weeks following the first debate back in August. Trump claimed the line of questioning was slanted and unfair, a point which many observers agreed with. Based on recent events, such as National Review releasing an entire “against Trump” issue, and Megyn Kelly prominently featuring the editors and contributors to that piece on her show this week, the appearance of bias is once again taking shape.
As the information unfolds, which could very well change over the next 24 hours, we’ll have details about how the debate is taking shape and whether Trump goes through with his threat to skip it and put on his own competing event.
Stay tuned folks, this is turning out to be the most interesting campaign week so far in 2016.