Fox News Extends Town Hall Invite To DeSantis, Haley

Former President Donald Trump will once again be skipping the next Republican presidential primary debate in favor of participating in an event to be held at the same time. Reports this week indicated that as the rest of the qualifying candidates will be onstage in Iowa for a CNN-hosted debate on Wednesday, the front-runner plans to take part in a town hall event moderated by Fox News Channel personalities Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

A number of social media users began criticizing Fox News for agreeing to provide Trump with a televised platform while his rivals were taking questions at a Republican National Committee-sanctioned debate.

The backlash was evidently enough to convince the network to extend similar offers to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who have been engaged in a battle for a distant second place in the primary campaign.

On Monday and Tuesday, the two days before the upcoming debate, Haley and DeSantis, respectively, will participate in town hall forums to be broadcast by the cable news channel. The primary topic of discussion in both cases, the network confirmed, will be women’s issues.

As for the Trump town hall, Fox News signaled that it “will focus on the leading issues facing votes ahead of the Iowa caucus,” which will take place five days later.

Baier responded to the criticism with a social media post insisting that Trump “will not have the questions in advance or any knowledge of the questions from [him], Martha or from citizens in the crowd — who will be a mix of Iowa voters.”

He went on to note that he initially approached the Trump campaign with the idea.
“They had turned down the debate (and all debates) and wanted to do it then,” Baier wrote in regard to the timing.

The added context only resulted in additional questions and criticism.

Trump’s willingness to appear on Fox News, which he has criticized repeatedly in recent months, was noteworthy, as was the inclusion of Baier, whom he described as “nasty” and “unfriendly” following an interview last year.

“No smiling, no ‘Let’s have fun, let’s make America great again,’” Trump said about the interview. “Everything was like a hit.”

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