UPDATE: ABC News and WMUR-TV have canceled plans for a Republican debate on Thursday for a simple reason: Neither Nikki Haley or Donald Trump had committed to appear.
Haley said she would only do the debate if Trump was there.
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An ABC News spokesperson said, “Our intent was to host a debate coming out of the Iowa caucuses, but we always knew that would be contingent on the candidates and the outcome of the race. As a result, while our robust election coverage will continue, ABC News and WMUR-TV will not be moving forward with Thursday’s Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had said he would participate in the debate, as well as a CNN debate scheduled for Sunday in New Hampshire. CNN has not yet said whether that debate is going forward.
Haley, who finished third in Iowa, said earlier today, “We’ve had five great debates in this campaign. Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them. He has nowhere left to hide. The next debate I do will either be with Donald Trump or with Joe Biden. I look forward to it.”
But Trump has refused to participate in any of the GOP debates this cycle. His blowout victory in Iowa shows that he’s paid little price for declining to take the stage with the rest of the Republican field, but New Hampshire may be a different story. Some polls show that Haley has moved within single digits in the state’s Jan. 23 primary. An American Research Group poll released today showed Haley and Trump tied in the state at 40% among likely voters, with the sample taken from Jan. 12-15. Haley was counting on momentum out of Iowa, and even tried to characterize the race as a “two-person” contest between her and Trump. But DeSantis edged her out of the No. 2 position, and has vowed to continue his campaign even if he trails in the New Hampshire polls.
The ABC News/WMUR event was to be held at Saint Anselm College, which has had a long tradition of hosting pre-New Hampshire primary debates.
DeSantis is participating in a town hall event on CNN this evening.
PREVIOUSLY: Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley is signaling that she won’t participate in the next two planned GOP debates unless Donald Trump does.
Her comment this morning raises new doubts over whether the New Hampshire gatherings — including an ABC News event on Thursday and a CNN debate on Sunday — will happen at all. Trump has declined to participate in any of the events this cycle, and his lopsided win in Iowa on Monday showed that he has paid little price for the snubbing.
In a statement, Haley said, “We’ve had five great debates in this campaign. Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them. He has nowhere left to hide. The next debate I do will either with Donald Trump or with Joe Biden. I look forward to it.”
Haley finished third in Iowa, behind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. But at her caucus night event on Monday, she tried to frame the race as a two-person competition between her and Trump. Before the Iowa caucuses, some New Hampshire polling had shown her moving to within single digits of Trump in the state, which holds its primary on Jan. 23. DeSantis trails in the New Hampshire race but he has agreed to participate in the two debates.
ABC News and WMUR-TV are planning their debate for Thursday; CNN has one scheduled for Sunday.
During his victory speech on Monday night, Trump didn’t bash his rivals, but offered some faint praise to them. But in encouraging people to “come together,” the message was obvious that he wanted the party to unite behind him and focus on the November election and Joe Biden.
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