Late Tuesday, Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Hope Hicks, said the candidate will not be there and could stage a competing fund-raising event following a statement from FNC that tweaked the candidate for complaining about what he believed was Kelly’s bias against him.
Kelly riled the Republican front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination at the first GOP candidates’ debate on Aug. 6 when she questioned him about his past derogatory comments about women and whether he had the "temperament of a man we should elect as president.”
Trump attempted to roll with it, but he angrily complained about Kelly as soon as he left the stage. In a CNN interview the next day, he described Kelly as “having blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” On Twitter, he questioned her journalistic skills and called her a bimbo.
Nearly six months later, Trump is still leading in the polls — and still stewing about Kelly. In a video posted Tuesday on Instagram, Trump asked his Twitter followers if he should participate in the debate. “Megyn Kelly is really biased against me,” he said. “She knows that. I know that. Everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?” In recent interviews, Trump suggested he would sit it out if she was not removed.
Trump has made such threats before. He formally requested a $5-million charitable contribution to veterans’ groups in return for his appearance on CNN’s Republican primary debate. The network never considered it, and Trump still showed up.
Fox News Channel has no intention of altering its line-up of moderators — Kelly will once again be joined by “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier and “Fox News Sunday” moderator Chris Wallace, who already has a post-debate interview scheduled with Trump.
As for Trump’s comments on Kelly’s “bias,” the network issued a tongue-in-cheek response: “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.”
Trump was angered by the statement and within hours went from saying he “most likely” would not participate in the debate to an announcement by his campaign manager that he was definitely pulling out.
Trump believes that the debates have no audience appeal without him.