In Blowing Off Debate, Donald Trump Takes Biggest Gamble

GOP front-runner’s campaign manager says Trump’s position is “not under negotiation.”

The Associated Press

Donald Trump says he will skip Thursday’s GOP debate.

By + MoreDonald Trump is taking the biggest gamble yet of his unorthodox, unpredictable campaign for the White House: He says he’s blowing off the final GOP debate before the Iowa caucuses.

“Most likely I won’t be doing the debate,” Trump said at a press conference in Iowa. “They can’t toy with me like they toy with everybody else. I’m going to have something else in Iowa.”

But Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told reporters in Iowa Tuesday night that the GOP front-runner “will not be participating in the Fox News debate Thursday.”

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at Farmington High School, on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Farmington, N.H.

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He added that, “it is not under negotiation.”

Trump’s decision stems from his experience with one of the debate’s moderators, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who grilled him aggressively during the first Republican presidential primary debate back in August.

“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals,’ ” Kelly asked then.

Trump cut her off and quipped “it was only Rosie O’Donnell.” The crowd in Cleveland, Ohio roared at the joke, but the billionaire New Yorker didn’t get over the biting inquiry and has dubbed Kelly an unfair arbiter ever since.

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Trump took to social media Tuesday to ask his supporters whether he should participate in the seventh Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa four days before the state picks its preferences for president in each major party.

“Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that, I know that, everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?,” he asked on Instagram.

He appeared on Fox News’ Special Report program Tuesday night, but when asked if he would show up on Thursday night, he did not commit. He complained of the “games” being played by Fox News CEO and chairman Roger Ailes.

The Associated Press

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He was irked by a statement by a Fox News spokesperson’s statement released to Mediate that ribbed Trump. “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,” it read.

That seemed to be the straw that broke Trump’s back.

Trump has threatened to boycott debates before but has never followed through with his threat.

But his absence could create an opening for his rivals, especially Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is competing with him vigorously in the Hawkeye State.

“It takes a huge set of brass balls to bypass the last debate before ballots are cast,” says Republican strategist Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.