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Fox News appears to be making a move against former President Donald Trump after he made the decision to ditch the first GOP primary debate this week, which the network is moderating live from Milwaukee, Wis.
According to a network memo obtained by Mediaite, Fox execs have decided that no surrogates will be able to appear in the debate spin room for any candidate who is not on the debate stage, effectively barring advocates for the former president.
Axios first reported: “The barring of Trump surrogates from attending Wednesday’s debate at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee comes one day after the 77-year-old former president confirmed that he would not participate in the event, which will be aired on Fox News, CNN’s Alayna Treene reported on Monday.”
“The Post has confirmed that surrogates for any candidate who didn’t make the stage will not be allowed at the debate, and that it is not a Trump-specific ban. The ex-commander-in-chief’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., had said Monday that he would be attending the showdown as a surrogate for his father. His fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle, was also expected to show up at the event and run media for the former president, according to the Daily Caller,” the outlet added.
CNN’s Treene tweet has since been deleted, but she cleared up some details.
“Members of Trump’s teams and his surrogates, however, are still planning on traveling to Milwaukee and are working on a resolution with the network as well as the RNC, two Trump advisers told CNN,” she tweeted.
Members of Trump’s teams and his surrogates, however, are still planning on traveling to Milwaukee and are working on a resolution with the network as well as the RNC, two Trump advisers told CNN
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) August 22, 2023
Trump took to his Truth Social media platform on Sunday to make an announcement about whether or not he will attend future Republican primary debates.
He cited a new CBS News poll showing him with 62 percent support as justification for not participating in the debates.
“New CBS POLL, just out, has me leading the field by ‘legendary’ numbers. TRUMP 62%, 46 Points above DeSanctimonious (who is crashing like an ailing bird!), Ramaswamy 7%, Pence 5%, Scott 3%, Haley 2%, Sloppy Chris Christie 2%, ‘Aida’ Hutchinson 1%,” he wrote.
“The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!” he added.
Trump, now facing four indictments as the leading 2024 GOP presidential contender, is planning a cable news blitz as well as a sit-down interview with former Fox News star Tucker Carlson as a counter to the first Republican debate later this month, which Fox is moderating.
Sources close to the Trump campaign have reportedly told CNN that the ex-president and his advisors are engaged in discussions regarding potential counterprogramming strategies to divert attention from the upcoming Fox News debate in Milwaukee.
“Conversations regarding a potential interview with Carlson have taken place with Trump’s team, but there is no definitive plan for him to do that as of now, they say,” Alayna Treene reported. “Trump has privately and publicly floated skipping either one or both of the first two Republican presidential primary debates and has repeatedly pointed to his commanding lead in the polls as one reason he is hesitant to share the stage with his GOP challengers.”
Trump hasn’t done any debate prep, and one of Treene’s sources noted that he doesn’t need it. She added that “there’s always a chance he may ultimately decide to participate at the 11th hour.”
Trump last month suggested that he may sit down for a one-on-one interview with Carlson on the same night as the first Republican primary debate.
In addition to Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have qualified for the first debate.