Trump Pulls Out Of GOP Debate On FNC

Donald Trump's declaration was an unexpected, if not unpredictable, twist in the final days of the Iowa campaign. The real estate mogul had threatened repeatedly to boycott debates before, only to ultimately acquiesce. By picking a fight publicly, Trump assured that even if he goes through with his plan not to show up Thursday, his absence will be the center of attention. Adding intrigue to the Democratic race, the White House said President Barack Obama would host Bernie Sanders for an Oval Office meeting.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) — Donald Trump declared Tuesday he would boycott the last Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses, leading Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to challenge him to a one-on-one debate. Adding intrigue to the Democratic race, the White House said President Barack Obama would host Bernie Sanders for an Oval Office meeting.

The dual developments created new ripples of uncertainty six days before voting in the presidential race begins. Both parties were bracing for nail-biting caucuses that will determine which of their two leading candidates will carry the whiff of victory into New Hampshire and beyond.

Trump raised the prospect of skipping the debate as he blasted Fox News Channel for “playing games” and including anchor Megyn Kelly as a debate moderator. Trump’s campaign later said he definitely will not participate.

“I said bye bye, OK?” Trump said.

The race among Democrats was no more settled six days from the leadoff Iowa caucuses, with Sanders and Hillary Clinton locked in a close contest and details about their debate plans unclear. But the fireworks Tuesday were on the Republican side.

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Trump said he would hold his own event in Iowa during the debate to raise money for wounded veterans. He dismissed Kelly as a “third-rate reporter” who is bad at her job and had been “toying” with him – reprising a squabble that erupted after a debate Kelly co-hosted last year.

Kelly shot back on her nightly show, arguing that Trump is used to getting his way but can’t control the media. She said her network and CEO Roger Ailes had made it clear to Trump for months that they wouldn’t change their moderator line-up.

“I’ll be there,” Kelly said. “The debate will go on with or without Mr. Trump.”

Trump’s pullout came after Fox News Channel tweaked the GOP front-runner for asking his Twitter followers whether he should debate. The network, in a sarcastically worded statement, said it had learned from a “secret back channel” that the leaders of Iran and Russia planned to treat Trump unfairly if elected.

“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 the statement from a Fox News Channel representative.

Trump’s declaration was an unexpected, if not unpredictable, twist in the final days of the Iowa campaign. The real estate mogul had threatened repeatedly to boycott debates before, only to ultimately acquiesce.

By picking a fight publicly, Trump assured that even if he goes through with his plan not to show up Thursday, his absence will be the center of attention.

Cruz, appearing at an evening rally, offered to face Trump “mano a mano” anytime. He said Trump was scared of Kelly, telling supporters that skipping the debate was like refusing a job interview.

“If someone did that, didn’t show up at the interview, you know what you’d say? You’re fired,” Cruz said, riffing on Trump’s famous rejoinder from the “The Apprentice.”

There was drama on the Democratic side as well.

As Sanders left Iowa and Minnesota for his meeting with Obama on Wednesday, the meeting was being watched for signs of the president’s leanings. He’s sought to avoid showing favoritism, and White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the meeting would be informal, with “no formal agenda.”

Just a day earlier, Clinton had been soaking in presidential praise. In a Politico interview, Obama called her “wicked smart” and immensely qualified to run the country, in his most extensive comments to date on the race. Obama has met with Clinton, his former secretary of state and 2008 primary opponent, periodically. Unlike the Sanders meeting, the White House typically hasn’t disclosed those sessions in advance.

Democrats, too, faced fresh uncertainty about their debates – marquee events in the presidential race.

Following criticism that the Democratic Party had limited debates to help Clinton, New Hampshire’s largest newspaper and MSNBC said Tuesday they would host an additional debate next week just before the first-in-the-nation primary. But the Democratic National Committee chairwoman said the party had “no plans” to sanction more debates, and Clinton’s campaign said she’d only participate if the other candidates agree. So far, only Martin O’Malley has said he’ll participate.

Sanders, in an Associated Press interview Tuesday, waxed confident that he had an “excellent chance” to win Iowa. He predicted success in Iowa and New Hampshire would beget more support from party leaders who have firmly backed Clinton as the party’s best chance for a general election victory.

“If I’m the candidate best able to do that, you can bet your bottom buck we’re going to have a whole lot of establishment Democrats on board,” Sanders said.

Josh Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Ken Thomas in Duluth, Minnesota, and Scott Bauer in Osceola, Iowa, contributed to this report.


Comments (11)

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Just Fine says:

January 27, 2016 at 12:19 am

Dude wants to be leader of the free world. Afraid of a tiny blonde reporter lady. I have to admit, while I’m not a fan of Fox News Channel, I did chuckle at their response.

    Keith ONeal says:

    January 27, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    I agree. It was a nice piece of sarcasm.

Brian Bussey says:

January 27, 2016 at 10:01 am

he does not say anything hen he does debate so really.. what’s the difference. ?

Gregg Palermo says:

January 27, 2016 at 10:06 am

He’s a prima-Donald, but his decision will cost real money to Fox, whose audience guarantees will shrivel. Not that he gave them much choice, but FoxNews’ snotty reply yesterday was a jab in the eye. Begging for sex is more effective than drawing a line in the sand, as any husband can tell you.

    Keith ONeal says:

    January 27, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Why is it that people don’t recognize sarcasm when they see it? That’s what the response from Fox News was ~ sarcasm ~ plain, pure and simple.

Julien Devereux says:

January 27, 2016 at 10:31 am

First, Trump will show up at the debate. His narcissism won’t allow him to stand sitting by the wayside while everyone attacks him, and he can’t attack back in kind, just on Twitter. Secondly, you would think that an Hispanic would know that “mano a mano” does NOT mean man to man. Mano is the Spanish word for hand. “Mano a mano” means “Hand to hand.”

    Keith ONeal says:

    January 27, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Trump says that he will do an event for the Wounded Warriors Project (which according to CBS News is under an investigation as to how the money they receive is really spent) Thursday Night. We’ll see what happens ….

Scott Cote says:

January 27, 2016 at 11:27 am

It’s just unfathomable to me that this man is running for President of the United States. How are we even tolerating this folly? I usually get it, but this time I don’t. And it’s our media that is making all this possible…..

    Gene Johnson says:

    January 27, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    It is not the media that is making it all possible, but rather lots of people who are supporting Mr. Trump. Many in the media (most?) discounted his candidacy early on, until they couldn’t because he kept sticking around and gaining in polls. The media are followers, not leaders. Look how much media attention Jeb Bush got earlier in the campaign, when he was considered the front-runner and “the Donald” wasn’t taken seriously. The media are basically reacting to what polls show. I’ve long believe polls generally receive far too much attention, particularly in the media, but that’s a different issue than who is making Mr. Trump’s campaign possible. He is primarily self-financing his effort, at least thus far, people have responded (though still a minority of a minority), and the media are following.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    January 27, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Unfortunately the Top 2 for both parties comes down to a choice as to who is the best of the worst.

    Ellen Samrock says:

    January 27, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    For the same reason Bernie “Hammer and Sickle” Sanders is running. How that guy got this far is a real mystery.


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