As the featured act in the 2016 election cycle, Donald Trump knows he is in the proverbial catbird seat when it comes to media coverage. Over the course of previous months, the GOP front-runner has overtly claimed that his very presence on the debate stage is a veritable boon to cable news networks, and he has even threatened to pull out of events and send their ratings into a tailspin.
With such a vast pool of Republican candidates – numbering 17 aspiring presidents at one point – the show always went on despite the billionaire’s bluster. But with three candidates left, it’s now impossible to ignore Trump’s prominence in the political discourse. On Thursday afternoon, Fox News effectively acknowledged that without Donald Trump, there is hardly any point in staging a Republican debate, canceling one of their televised events after the Trump camp pulled out due to an apparent schedule conflict. The debate was scheduled for March 21 in Salt Lake City Utah.
CNN reports that Donald Trump announced that he would not appear at the debate during an appearance on Fox and Friends Wednesday morning, opting to appear instead at an annual conference on American policies on Israel. In fact, Trump seemed to cast doubt on just how willing he will be when it comes to any further debates prior to the Republican National Convention this summer.
“I think we’ve had enough debates,” Trump said on Fox and Friends. “How many times can you answer the same question?”
According to the New York Times, Trump said he was surprised when he found out that Fox News wanted him to participate in the March 21 debate. But during an appearance on CNN 48 hours earlier, he acknowledged that other debates were in the works.
After Donald Trump announced that he would not participate in the debate, John Kasich pulled out as well. A representative for Kasich expressed disappointment that the two candidates would not meet at the debate. Kasich’s chief strategist John Weaver issued a statement to a Salt Lake City’s Fox 13 via e-mail.
“We had hoped to contrast Governor Kasich’s positive inclusive approach to problem solving with Trump’s campaign of division,” said Weaver. “If he changes his mind, we will be there.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich emerged as a significant stumbling block in Donald Trump’s road to the Republican nomination after he won all of Ohio’s 66 delegates on “Super Tuesday 3.” Texas Senator Ted Cruz is in second place in the Republican race at present.
Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Salt Lake City debate comes on the heels of his latest round of sniping at Fox News personality Megyn Kelly. As reported by the Inquisitr earlier today, Trump harangued Kelly via Twitter during Fox’s coverage of election returns on Tuesday night. A feud of sorts developed between Trump and Kelly after an awkward exchange between the two during the first Fox News Republican debate in August. Since then, Trump has roundly criticized Kelly time and again via social media, and he also declined to participate in a televised GOP forum moderated by Kelly. Trump’s public and at times off-color chiding of Kelly has stirred controversy, placing him at odds with influential Republicans like Red State’s Erick Erickson.
As noted above, Donald Trump will appear at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 21 instead of the now-canceled Fox debate. His camp describes the AIPAC event as a “major speech in front of a very important group of people,” according to a piece by the New York Times. Indeed, Donald Trump’s position on American-Israel relations has been one of many sources of controversy during his campaign, as Trump himself has professed a desire to be “neutral” with regard to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people.
Editor’s note: FOX News reached out to the Inquisitr with the following statement from Executive Vice President Michael Clemente.
“On Feb. 20, the Republican National Committee announced that a GOP presidential primary debate would be held on March 21 in Salt Lake City. They offered that debate to Fox News Channel to host, provided there were enough candidates actively campaigning. This morning, Donald Trump announced he would not be participating in the debate. Shortly afterward, John Kasich’s campaign announced that without Trump at the debate, Kasich would not participate. Ted Cruz has expressed a willingness to debate Trump or Kasich — or both. But obviously, there needs to be more than one participant. So the Salt Lake City debate is cancelled.”
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