Donald Trump will not take part in the Republican debate on Thursday night hosted by Fox News and co-moderated by Megyn Kelly.
‘Megyn Kelly is a lightweight. This is a lightweight. This is not a reporter. This to me is just a light weight,’ Trump said at a press conference before a campaign event in Iowa tonight. ‘Megyn Kelly shouldn’t be in the debate.’
Trump said then that he ‘probably’ wouldn’t participate in the seventh GOP debate and the last one before voting begins.
His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, then said, according to the Washington Post, that the Republican frontrunner would ‘definitely not’ show up and would organize a fundraiser for veterans instead.
Scroll down for video
Donald Trump, pictured during a campaign event in Marshalltown, Iowa, will ‘definitely not’ attend the Republican debate organised in Des Moines on Thursday night, as it will be co-moderated by Megyn Kelly
‘It’s not under negotiation,’ Lewandowski told reporters. ‘We’ll have an event here in Iowa, with potentially another network, to raise money for Wounded Warriors and Fox will go from having probably 24 million viewers for the debate to, you know, two million viewers.’
Trump said he made the decision Tuesday after he read press statements from Fox News signed by CEO Roger Ailes that he believes were childish.
‘I was all set to do the debate. I came here to do the debate, but when they sent out the wise guy press releases a little while ago, done by PR person along with Roger Ailes, I said, bye bye, OK?’ he told reporters tonight before his Marshalltown, Iowa, event.
That day, Trump asked his Twitter followers whether he should attend the debate and filmed a short Instagram video on the matter.
‘Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?’ he asked, suggesting that his supporters sound off in the comments.
Fox News later mocked Trump’s reluctance to take part in the debate in a statement published by Business Insider.
‘We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatolla 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,’ a Fox spokesperson said.
Also on Tuesday, Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes called Kelly an excellent journalist in a statement to the Washington Post and assured she would be there on Thursday night.
Trump said his concerns about Kelly began on Tuesday after he read a press statement from Fox News regarding the debate. That day, the network mocked his reluctance to take part in the event
The Republican frontrunner will remain in Iowa and will host a fundraiser for injured veterans instead. His campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said it might be covered by another network
The original beef: Fox News’ Megyn Kelly (left) asked Donald Trump (right) if he had the temperament to be president and go up against a female candidate like Hillary Clinton after labeling women ‘pigs’ and ‘dogs’
A spokesperson for Fox News mocked Donald Trump’s use of Twitter polls joking that as president The Donald would ‘replace the cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings’
Trump added new toxicity to his feud with the Fox News personality, who hasn’t personally engaged, by dragging her name through the mud during interviews on CNN and ABC over the past 24 hours.
‘She’s not very good at what she does,’ the Republican frontrunner added.
Trump has ramped up his complaints about the Fox News journalist in recent days, in advance of the last Republican debate before the February 1 Iowa caucuses, though this particular spat has been going on for months.
The billionaire’s disdain for Kelly was on full display at the original Fox News debate in August.
Right out of the gate, Kelly asked about Trump’s temperament and how he would stand up against a woman-friendly choice like Democrat Hillary Clinton.
‘You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals,”‘ Kelly noted.
Trump quickly punched back and got the audience laughing.
‘Only Rosie O’Donnell,’ the billionaire replied. The two celebrities have had a longtime feud.
Kelly got the question back on track, adding that The Donald had once told a ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ contestant ‘it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees.’
But Trump used the moment to mock political correctness and to ding Kelly for being mean.
Donald Trump later said that Megyn Kelly had ‘blood coming out of her wherever’ as she asked him ‘ridiculous questions’ at the first Fox News Channel debate in August
Donald Trump has griped about Megyn Kelly in the last 24 hours, complaining about the Fox News personality to Wolf Blitzer in an interview that aired last night on CNN
‘What I say is what I say,’ Trump said. ‘And honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably, maybe not be based on the way you have treated me, but I wouldn’t do that.’
Kelly continued to hurdle tough questions at Trump through that first debate, including ‘When did you actually become a Republican?’
Shortly after the debate, when Trump voiced irritation about Kelly’s ‘unfair’ questions, he also seemed to complain about her menstrual cycle on CNN.
‘She gets out there and starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,’ Trump said to CNN’s Don Lemon. ‘You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever … you could see she was off-base.’
The comment got Trump scolded by more mainstream Republicans.
He was uninvited from attending a gathering sponsored by the conservative blog RedState, which was taking place in Atlanta, Georgia.
But Trump pressed on – on the campaign trail and against Kelly.
He’s re-posted tweets that have labeled the journalist a ‘bimbo.’
In the last 24 hours, he’s said she’s ‘not a professional’ to Stephanopoulos. ‘I don’t think she’s a very talented person. I don’t think she is a good reporter. I think they can do a lot better than that.’
Last night on CNN, talking to Wolf Blitzer, Trump used many of the same lines and threatened to not attend the debate.
‘Nothing’s 100 per cent, I’m not 100 per cent,’ Trump said. ‘I’ll see. If I think I’m going to be treated unfairly, I’d do something else. I don’t think she can treat me fairly, I think she’s very biased.’
Kelly hasn’t spoken publicly about the insults being thrown her way, but the folks at Fox are standing firm behind the ‘Kelly File’ host.
‘Sooner or later Donald Trump, even if he’s president, is going to have to learn that he doesn’t get to pick the journalists – we’re very surprised he’s willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly,’ a spokesperson for Fox News Channel said in a statement.