Donald Trump seems to have punted on attracting more media attention by pulling out of the final Republican debate before the first caucus in Iowa than he would have got by taking part.
It’s not the first time he’s threatened to pull out of a debate but the first time he’s actually done it.
Politico reports Donald Trump quits debate to stay center stage
With less than 150 hours before the Iowa caucuses, Trump thrust himself squarely into the center of the political conversation and the news cycle with his surprise declaration that he would boycott the final debate before voting begins in Iowa.
At a combative press conference before a rally here, Trump said he wouldn’t participate in Thursday’s Fox News showdown because co-moderator Megyn Kelly is biased against him, and because he found Fox’s response to his concerns childish.
“Let’s see how they do at the debate,” Trump said. “Let’s see how many people watch.”
This is not the first time Trump has played hardball with a debate host.
In his press conference, Trump continued his months-long tirade against Kelly, who moderated the first GOP debate last August, calling her a “lightweight” and “third-rate reporter.”
He can’t handle a ‘lightweight’ reporter?
Ted Cruz is using the wimp out to fight back against Trump.
Cruz picked up the same line as Fox in challenging Trump to a one-on-one debate in Fairfield, Iowa. “Just a few minutes ago, the news broke that Donald Trump is refusing to attend the debate here in Iowa on Thursday,” he said to a mixture of boos and applause. “He announced he will not be there. Apparently Megyn Kelly is really, really scary.”
The crowd laughed.
“This race is a dead heat between Donald and me, we are effectively tied in the state of Iowa. If he is unwilling to stand on the debate stage with the other candidates, I would like to invite Donald right now to engage in a one-on-one debate with me, anytime between now and the Iowa Caucuses,” he said.
He ticked through a list of potential moderators from conservative talk radio, including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity—but if they are “too scary,” Cruz mocked, then he and Trump could “do 90 minute, Lincoln-Douglas, mano-a-mano, Donald and me. He can lay out his vision for this country, I can lay out my vision in front of the men and women of Iowa.”
It’s getting to the serious business part of the contest and Trump may find it more difficult to manipulate media for his own benefit so much.
FiveThirtyEight has Cruz and Trump level pegging on 44% each.