The Republican debate season may have ended Wednesday, as the 13th contest of the primary cycle, scheduled for March 21 in Salt Lake City, was cancelled.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends” that he would not participate in the upcoming Fox News debate, deciding instead to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. John Kasich’s campaign later announced the Ohio governor wouldn’t attend either.
Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente confirmed in a statement that the debate would not take place. He said the Republican National Committee had offered Fox News the opportunity to host the Utah debate “provided there were enough candidates actively campaigning.”
“This morning, Donald Trump announced he would not be participating in the debate. Shortly afterward, John Kasich’s campaign announced that without Trump at the debate, Kasich would not participate,” Clemente said. “Ted Cruz has expressed a willingness to debate Trump or Kasich — or both. But obviously, there needs to be more than one participant. So the Salt Lake City debate is cancelled.”
Trump skipped Fox News’ January debate in Iowa after trying to get executives to remove moderator Megyn Kelly, whose tough questioning of him during the first Republican debate in August led to him lashing out at her and the network. He did participate in a Fox News-hosted debate last month in which Kelly was a moderator.
The Republican National Committee has sanctioned one additional debate, if needed, to take place in New York in April.
When asked if he expected the New York debate to happen, RNC communications director Sean Spicer told The Huffington Post “that will be up to the candidates.”
But Trump’s recent comments, along with being the front-runner and presumably having the least to gain from another debate, suggest he’d be unlikely to participate. Immediately following Thursday night’s CNN debate, the 12th this cycle, Trump told anchor Chris Cuomo that “we’ve had enough with the debates.”
Still, Trump indicated he’d participate in a couple more. “I think they want to do two more debates and I guess I’m pretty much OK with it,” Trump said.
He said he was unaware there was a March 21 debate when asked about it at a Friday news conference to roll out his endorsement from Dr. Ben Carson.
“I didn’t know there was a next debate,” he said. “I thought we had our next debate last night, no?”
Trump said Friday that the debates had been “a ratings bonanza” for the networks, but in his view, “it’s time to end the debates.”
He reiterated that position Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.”
“I think we’ve had enough,” he said. “How many times can the same people ask you the same question?”
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