Donald Trump, speaking to Fox News this morning, stated that he will not be taking part in next week’s Fox News debate, commenting that they’ve had enough debates on the Republican side already and skipping it wouldn’t be a big deal – particularly since he’s got another event scheduled that night. But some commentators are speculating that Trump’s decision to skip the debate might be a strategic one. But after Trump dropped out, Kasich followed suit, and so did Cruz, canceling the event.
“I’m doing a major speech in front of a very important group of people that night, it was scheduled a while ago,” Trump deflected, speaking to Fox News.
Trump’s decision to skip the debate means that the event is canceled. With only two remaining candidates other than Trump, the debate stage would only be shared by Cruz and Kasich. Kasich’s campaign, speaking to Fox News this morning, expressed disappointment that the debate won’t be going forward. The candidate had hoped to contrast his hopeful message against Trump’s typically fiery rhetoric, which likely wouldn’t sit well with the people of Utah, reports Politico.
GOP debate canceled after Trump pulls out https://t.co/LE3so5c0oR
— POLITICO (@politico) March 16, 2016
“Donald Trump’s decision to scuttle the Salt Lake City debate is disappointing but not surprising. His values are out of step with the people of Utah, if he changes his mind, we’ll be there,” said a spokesman for the John Kasich campaign.
Kasich’s campaign stated that they’ll attend the debate if Trump is going to be there, but according to Sean Spicer, the RNC’s chief strategist, the debate will go on without Donald Trump – but not without Kasich and Trump. It looks like Cruz and Kasich won’t be on stage together, and even though Trump says he won’t attend the debate, the added exposure for his two competitors could have meant trouble for the Trump campaign, reports the Washington Post.
“Nobody told me about debates, as you saw I thought the last debate on CNN was the last debate,” Donald Trump told Fox News this morning.
The last time Trump decided to skip a debate — to boycott Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, with whom he had a very public and bitter feud — might have cost him a key primary win in January. Opting out of the debate, Trump instead hosted an event for military veterans. An effort to take some of the spotlight, the competing Trump event was broadcast and widely covered, but his absence from the Megyn Kelly-moderated debate did some damage to his chances in Iowa early on in the race.
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) March 16, 2016
“How many times can the same people ask you the same question? So I was very surprised when I heard that Fox called for a debate. Nobody told me about it and I won’t be there, no,” Trump said this morning, speaking with Fox News.
The event that Trump will be attending instead of the Fox News debate, which has now been canceled since it wouldn’t be much of a debate with just Ted Cruz on stage for an hour, is an event for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group that has powerful ties to the political structure in Washington, D.C. Trump’s decision to forego the debate, and accidentally get it canceled, works out in his favor since he’ll get some face time with important potential supporters as Trump attempts to broaden his appeal to moderates and even some liberals.
Insider: Trump to skip GOP debate for pro-Israel conference https://t.co/4X6XWYTTVk
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) March 15, 2016
The pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC will hold its annual convention in Washington, D.C., Sunday through Tuesday, and both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are scheduled to speak at the event. Whether or not Trump and Clinton will be in the same building or speak to the same crowd is unclear, as AIPAC has yet to release a schedule for the event.
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]