Billionaire real estate investor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he plans to skip Thursday’s Republican presidential debate on Fox News in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I was all set to do the debate, I came here to do the debate. When they sent out the wise-guy press release done by some PR person along with [Fox News Chairman] Roger Ailes, I said, ‘Bye bye, OK,'” Trump said according to Reuters.
Trump had posted a Twitter poll on Monday asking his followers if he should participate in the Fox News debate, prompting Fox to issue a sarcastic press release mocking the candidate’s courage.
“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,” read Fox News Channel’s press release according to Breitbart.
“Well Fox is playing games, yeah. Fox is going to make a fortune. I told Fox, ‘You should give money to the Wounded Warriors.’ I’m not a fan of Megyn Kelly. I think she’s a third-rate reporter,” said Trump as he listed his grievances at the news conference.
Meanwhile, Fox News is accusing Trump’s campaign manager of threatening debate moderator Megyn Kelly.
Breitbart notes that a Tuesday Fox News statement read, “We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about [Trump] walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage.”
The statement continued, “Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats, including the one leveled by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski toward Megyn Kelly. In a call on Saturday with a Fox News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.’ Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so.”
After Tuesday’s press conference, a statement by the Trump campaign read according to The Hill, “[Donald Trump] will not be participating in the FOX News debate and will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politicians.”
Trump rival and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz said on The Mark Levin Show, “The fact that Donald is now afraid to appear on the debate stage, that he doesn’t want his record questioned, I think that reflects a lack of respect for the men and women in Iowa… If he thinks Megyn Kelly is so scary, what exactly does he think he’d do with Vladimir Putin?”
Fox News’ statement on the controversy concluded, “Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on FOX News & FOX Business, but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.”
The Washington Post pointed out that Trump said that his decision not to appear at Thursday’s debate is “pretty irrevocable.”
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