Donald Trump won’t be participating in a debate Fox News had planned for March 21, the GOP frontrunner told the TV station during a phone interview Wednesday morning.
“I think we’ve had enough debates,” Trump said during an interview on FOX & Friends. “How many times can the same people ask you the same question?”
By Wednesday afternoon, Fox confirmed that Trump’s move had led to the debate being canceled entirely. Trump’s exit created a domino effect — Ohio Gov. John Kasich also pulled out of the event.
Without Trump or Kasich, there was only one candidate left, Ted Cruz, and so the debate was scrapped.
In Trump’s TV interview with Fox, he said he received late notice of the debate, and only found out about it Monday. On the same day of the debate, Trump said, he’s already scheduled to give a speech to a large crowd at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Trump said he won’t be canceling that speech to attend a debate.
“Nobody told me about it, and I won’t be there, no,” Trump said.
AIPAC is considered one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country. In addition to Trump, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, and Cruz are scheduled to speak in person. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak via satellite. (The exact schedule hasn’t been announced yet for the March 20-22 conference.)
Trump previously declined to participate in a Jan. 28 Fox News/Google debate in Des Moines — a decision Trump made after his well-publicized feud with Fox debate moderator Megyn Kelly.
After skipping that debate, Trump lost the Iowa caucus to Sen. Ted Cruz.
But this time around, Trump is in a far stronger position to call the shots. Trump’s strong performance in Tuesday’s voting — winning Florida, Illinois and North Carolina — solidified his status as the GOP frontrunner.
As Trump gets closer to securing the nomination, he still faces strong resistance from some Republicans.
At the same time that Trump was doing TV interviews Wednesday morning, Cruz supporters were urging Republicans to get behind their candidate instead.
In comments to CNN, Neil Bush — Jeb Bush’s brother — said that Trump’s biggest successes have come in “open” primaries that allow independents or Democrats to vote in the GOP race. Bush said there are closed primaries ahead that provide an opening for Cruz.
“I’m not going to support Trump, period,” Bush said.
Another Cruz supporter, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, said the current vacancy on the Supreme Court highlights why Cruz is a better candidate. Fiorina said Republicans have “no clue” as to what kind of person Trump would nominate to the Supreme Court if he became president.
“It’s not just the White House that hangs in the balance,” she said. “The Supreme Court hangs in the balance.”
On Fox News, Trump said that some of the same conservatives who criticize him publicly are quietly calling him, “trying to get on the team.” And when it comes to picking Supreme Court justices, Trump said he is committed to nominating a true conservative.
“As close to [Antonin] Scalia as I could find,” Trump said. “I would really use that as the model.”