Donald Trump's campaign appears serious about counterprogramming the Fox GOP presidential debate he said Wednesday he would be skipping.
Trump this week took aim at debate moderator Megyn Kelly, who he attacked following the initial Fox News debate, when she asked some tough questions of the candidate. After Fox News reportedly responded with a mocking e-mail that rubbed Trump the wrong way, he said he probably would not participate in the Jan. 28 Iowa debate on Fox.
On Wednesday (Jan. 27), the campaign confirmed Trump's nonparticipation by announcing to supporters the details of an alternative event, which was described as a "rally in honor of our veterans."
That event, labeled DONALD J. TRUMP SPECIAL EVENT FOR VETERANS, will begin at 7 p.m. (9 p.m. NYT, when the debate is scheduled to begin) at 2507 Carpenter Ave in Des Moines, which is on the campus of Drake University, which is hosting the GOP debate.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) an honored Viet Nam veteran and former POW, criticized Trump's use of a veterans event for "political purposes," and told CNN he thought Kelly was an "outstanding journalist."
Of Trump's decision to pull out of the debate, a Fox spokesperson said following that announcement.
“As many of our viewers know, FOX News is hosting a sanctioned debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night, three days before the first votes of the 2016 election are cast in the Iowa Caucus. Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented.
"We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage. Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards..."
Trump tweeted late Wednesday: "It was the childishly written & taunting PR statement by Fox that made me not do the debate, more so than lightweight reporter, @megynkelly."
that was a reference to a statement from a Fox News spokesperson following Trump's Instagram video calling Kelly biased.
In that tongue-in-cheek statement, the spokesperson said: “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.”