Fresh off a series of election victories that put him in a stronger position for the GOP nomination than ever, Donald Trump announced on Fox News Wednesday morning that he would not attend the network's scheduled debate next week — because, he said, he's giving a "major speech" elsewhere.
Then John Kasich's campaign made it clear that he wouldn't attend either if Trump wouldn't show up — and soon afterward, Fox News put out word that the debate would be cancelled.
Fox News confirms March 21 debate is cancelled, releases statement from EVP of News, Michael Clemente pic.twitter.com/ZpqzuyrCdr— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) March 16, 2016
The speech Trump is referring to will reportedly be to AIPAC, which is holding its annual policy conference in Washington, DC, next week. But of course, Trump's speech there didn't have to be at the same time as the debate (the conference lasts three days). This was deliberate.
This isn't the first debate Trump has skipped — he ditched Fox News's final debate before the Iowa caucuses earlier this year, and many speculated it was because he didn't want to face off with his nemesis Megyn Kelly again. But after Trump's somewhat disappointing second-place finish in Iowa, he seemed to have second thoughts about that strategy. He's attended every debate since, including another Fox News one moderated by Kelly earlier this month.
Now, however, Trump appears to once again think his position is strong enough that he can safely play hooky again. "I think we've had enough debates," he said after last Thursday's debate in Miami. "I don't think there's any reason for the debates."
Of course, this is also the latest salvo in Trump's months-long feud with Fox News and Kelly. Indeed, on what was looking like a triumphant election night for him Tuesday, Trump decided to spend time sending several ugly tweets and retweets disparaging Kelly and the network. Unsettlingly, he even gave her a juvenile nickname — "Crazy Megyn" — akin to the ones he's given his political rivals ("Little Marco" and "Lyin' Ted").
Watching other networks and local news. Really good night! Crazy @megynkelly is unwatchable.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2016
Can't watch Crazy Megyn anymore. Talks about me at 43% but never mentions that there are four people in race. With two people, big & over!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2016