Trump skipping Iowa debate for Fox town hall

 January 3, 2024

Donald Trump is skipping CNN's debate in Iowa next week, opting instead to attend a town hall with Fox News. 

The Fox town hall is scheduled for 9 p.m. on Wednesday, January 10, the same time as CNN's debate.

This means there will be just two candidates on the debate stage, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis. It's the last scheduled debate before the Republican primary begins in earnest with the Iowa caucuses on January 15.

Trump skipping

Trump has consistently boycotted the primary debates, citing his formidable double-digit polling lead over his challengers.

Instead of going to the debates, Trump has spent time with Tucker Carlson, Michigan auto workers and supporters in Florida.

Trump's challengers have called him a coward, but those attacks don't seem to have made an impact on the race, which Trump is widely expected to win.

DeSantis, Haley taunt Trump

DeSantis and Haley both taunted Trump over the news that he won't be on stage next week.

Haley said that "it’s getting harder for Donald Trump to hide," while DeSantis took a number of sharp jabs at Trump's record and mockingly proposed letting Trump debate in a seated format - an apparent knock at Trump's age.

"We understand Donald Trump is scared to get on the stage because he’d have to finally explain why he didn’t build the wall, added nearly $8 trillion to the debt, and turned the country over to Fauci,” DeSantis campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo said in a statement.

“If it would make the debate more inviting, we would gladly agree to make it a seated format where the former president would be more comfortable.”

DeSantis is placing all of his hopes on a big showing in Iowa after his campaign failed to meet its high expectations.

The Florida governor started out as the clear runner-up, but a series of missteps highlighted his struggle to connect with voters, and he was never able to find his footing. His blasts at Trump have only seemed to make DeSantis less popular.

Haley has officially supplanted DeSantis in the number two spot, fueling speculation of a vice presidential role and some furious backlash from loyal Trump supporters who don't trust her.

At the end of the day, it's looking like Trump made a smart decision to skip the debates. His challengers just look desperate to share the spotlight with the frontrunner, and Trump looks stronger than ever.

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