UPDATE: 9:09 p.m. EST — In his latest blow against Fox News, Donald Trump reiterated that he would "not play games" with the news channel by attending its Republican presidential debate Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. The businessman released a Tuesday evening statement that called Fox News executive Roger Ailes and the station "highly incompetent."
From TRUMP Statement on skipping Fox News debate: pic.twitter.com/krIqaM3tNQ
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) January 27, 2016
UPDATE: 8:15 p.m. EST — After Donald Trump expressed doubt that he would show up for Thursday's Fox News Channel debate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz challenged Trump to a head-to-head showdown before the Republican presidential primary event, according to the Cruz campaign. The face-off would extend 90 minutes and not involve moderators.
— DavidPSawyer (@DavidPSawyer) January 27, 2016
Trump has told reporters that he plans to hold another event scheduled at the same time as the Fox News debate to raise money for members of the military instead, according to NBC News.
For its part in the spat, Fox News issued a tongue-in-cheek statement after Trump made his reservations about participating known. "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," said the statement.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Tuesday to not count on him showing up to the party's candidates debate scheduled for Thursday, Politico reported. “Most likely I’m not going to do the debate,” Trump said during a news conference in Iowa. “I don't know what games Roger Ailes is playing.” Ailes is chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel, Thursday's debate sponsor.
Shortly after his announcement, Trump’s campaign manager reportedly said the candidate would “definitely not” be taking part in the debate, adding that Trump’s “word is his bond.”
Trump camp manager @CLewandowski_ confirms to WaPo that Trump is “definitely not” participating in Fox New debate. “His word is his bond."
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) January 26, 2016
The billionaire business mogul famously clashed with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during the first Republican presidential debate last August. Kelly, who was one of the moderators from that debate, is slated to assume the same position Thursday. Kelly was tapped to moderate the debate alongside Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.
“Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me,” Trump said in an Instagram video posted Tuesday. “She knows that. I know that. Everybody knows that. Do you really think that she can be fair at a debate?”
Trump’s pronouncement comes as Fox News announced its lineup Tuesday. Hewas invited to appear in the prime-time debate at 9 p.m. EST, along with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Scheduled for the so-called undercard debate, at 7 p.m. EST, are former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
Trump appeared to be swayed by an earlier poll posted to Twitter asking followers whether he should attend the Des Moines, Iowa, debate Thursday. More than 35,000 followers had voted by Tuesday afternoon, but there was not an overwhelmingly clear verdict: Around 52 percent said he should attend, while 48 percent suggested he skip the debate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2016