Donald Trump’s campaign says the real estate mogul won’t be participating in Thursday night’s debate in Iowa, just four days before the caucus.
Moments earlier, Trump himself all but ruled out the debate out at a press conference.
“Mostly likely, I’m not going to do the debate,” Trump said responding to ABC’s question. “I’m going to have something else in Iowa.”
Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski later confirmed that Trump will not be participate in the debate, hosted by Fox News, and he will instead hold a separate event in Iowa that night.
“We’re going to do something simultaneously with the debate,” Trump said. “Let them have their debate.”
Trump’s Marshalltown campaign rally was supposed to be an opportunity to talk the issue of immigration joined by his latest endorser and “special guest,” controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But, Arpaio barely spoke at the event, only making a brief appearance with Trump on stage.
The news comes as Trump has been feuding with Fox News over debate moderator Megyn Kelly, posting in an Instagram video today that “Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that. I know that. Everybody knows that.”
Fox News today took a shot at Trump over his complaints about Kelly, issuing a sarcastic statement.
“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,” the Fox News statement read. “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 these meetings.”
Those remarks were criticized as being sexist, but Trump has continued his barrage against Kelly. Still he has appeared on other Fox news programs.
Instead of debating his Republican rivals, Trump said he will instead hold an event for veterans and wounded warriors.
“Obviously we would love all of the candidates to participate but each campaign ultimately makes their own decision about what’s in their best interest,” RNC communications director and chief strategist Sean Spicer said in a statement.