Years before Donald Trump refused to attend this week’s GOP debate, he lambasted other Republicans for doing the same.
“We’re not seeing a lot of courage here, are we? Not lots of courage. These Republicans, they’re supposed to be brave!” Trump told Fox’s Megyn Kelly in December 2012.
Back then it was Trump who was set to moderate the debate, for NewsMax and Ion Television, and almost everyone in the GOP field — Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Michele Bachman — who declining to participate.
“Mr. Trump’s participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere,” Ron Paul said in a statement at the time. Only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum agreed to attend.
In the end, Trump pulled out and the thing was called off, but not before he took a few jabs at the candidates in his interview with Kelly.
“I was disappointed in Mitt because I really thought he would go out and had courage,” Trump told her.
Trump has refused to participate in this week’s Fox debate if Kelly — with whom he has publicly feuded this campaign cycle — is one of the moderators.
Fox released a statement addressing Trump’s decision Tuesday: “Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats…. We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees.”
Trump shot back with a characteristically petulant response that aimed to frame his decision as strategic. “Unlike the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground, Mr. Trump knows when to walk away,” his campaign said in statement Wednesday. “Roger Ailes and FOX News think they can toy with him, but Mr. Trump doesn’t play games.”
On Wednesday evening, Trump doubled down on his decision, saying he would not reconsider it — in an interview on Fox News.