DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday went on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” and defended his decision to boycott the network’s debate.
“I’m not walking away. I was pushed away,” said Mr. Trump.
He stood by his criticism of that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly treated him unfairly in the first GOP debate and insisted that withdrawing from Thursday’s debate was the right thing to do.
He said pulling out was exactly the type of tough negotiating the Obama administration failed to employ for the Iran nuclear deal.
Mr. Trump also questioned the need for more debates.
“The Democrats are all finished with their debates. We’re going to go on forever with these debates. At some point you’ve got to do some things other than debates,” he said.
The show’s host, Bill O’Reilly, argued that skipping the debate was bad for America because Mr. Trump would be depriving American voters of an opportunity to see him in a high-profile setting.
Mr. Trump responded by plugging his own hastily organized event to compete with the debate, a “special event to benefit veterans organizations” at Drake University in Des Moines.
“I’m going to have a wonderful time tomorrow night,” he said. “We’re going to help a lot of veterans.”
Mr. Trump pledge a substantial donation to charities supporting wounded warriors and veterans.
Although he couldn’t convince Mr. Trump to reconsider his decision on the debate, Mr. O’Reilly praised his guest for coming on the show, an appearance that was schedule last week before the debate dustup.
“I don’t know any politician under these circumstances that would have come on here and done what you did tonight,” said Mr. O’Reilly.
Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the debate was the culmination of an longtime feud with the network, sparked by the first GOP debate in which Ms. Kelly asked him about calling women he doesn’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”
Mr. Trump refused to participate in Thursday’s debate if Ms. Kelly was a moderator. Fox News refused to comply and issues a sarcastic press release to mock Mr. Trump.
The press release prompted Mr. Trump to pull out of the debate and schedule his own event.
• S.A. Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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