US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump bailed out of a debate with party rivals days before the Iowa caucuses after hearing that Megyn Kelly would moderate the debate.
Trump’s campaign manager told reporters that Trump would not be participating in the debate scheduled for Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Trump expressed irritation that Fox News planned to put Megyn Kelly as the moderator of the debate, Kelly's questioning of Trump’s ethics at a debate last year had angered him.
Trump would have to learn sooner or later that “he doesn’t get to pick the journalists” and that “we are very surprised that he’s willing to show this much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly,” Fox News stated.
Trump said he was set to participate in the debate and that he came to Iowa for the debate until “they sent out the wise-guy press release."
“Let’s see how much money Fox makes without me in the debate,” the billionaire real estate mogul added.
Trump has friction with Fox News, since the network hosted the first debate and Kelly made headlines by questioning Trump’s ethics saying “you have called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”
“Your twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?" she added.
Fox News had responded to the incident by releasing a statement charging Trump’s campaign manager with threatening the journalist, referring to the “rough couple of days” she experienced from the first debate and adding that he would “hate to have her go through that again.”
“We can’t give in to terrorisation toward any of our employees,” Fox said in a statement.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is in a tight race with Trump in Iowa, criticised him for opting out of the debate.
"The act that Donald is now afraid to appear on the debate stage, that he doesn’t want his record questioned, I think that reflects a lack of respect for the men and women in Iowa,” Cruz said.
Cruz added that if Donald is afraid of Megyn Kelly, he would like to invite him to a one-on-one debate, “If he thinks Megyn Kelly is so scary, what exactly does he think he’d do with Vladimir Putin?”
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush retweeted a politically conservative American blogger's comments criticising Trump by questioning how he would run against Hillary Clinton if he were afraid of Kelly.
So Donald Trump can't handle tough questions from Megyn Kelly, but he'll be able to handle Hillary Clinton. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) January 27, 2016
Trump’s tactless speeches have boosted ratings for the Republican presidential debates with the first debate drawing 24 million viewers making it the highest non-sports telecast in cable TV history.
As Iowa Republicans seek to reassess who they want as their presidential candidates, a boycott could prove risky for Trump.