The Riggs Report: Trump’s no show in Iowa
Why it’s likely to work in his favor
Conventional politics says that candidates need to take advantage of every opportunity for air time. That exposure is like oxygen. But conventional politics, as we’ve seen, means very little this campaign season.
Donald Trump’s decision to sit out Thursday’s Fox News debate in Des Moines, the last debate before the crucial Iowa caucuses, will likely work to his benefit, not his detriment.
Yes, his opponents are unhappy with his move. Ted Cruz, in particular, has already challenged Trump to a one-on-one debate. But Trump’s campaign is more than aware that their candidate, as the poll frontrunner heading into the Iowa vote, has the equivalent of a large target on his back. He would face withering questions and blowback. Sitting out the debate appears to be a strategic move to minimize that risk and to simply sit on his lead.
Trump is clearly distressed with Megyn Kelly. Her questions in the first debate about his remarks that were seen as disrespectful to women led to his now-famous outburst about her having blood coming from her “whatever”. He has repeatedly questioned her professionalism and intelligence since.
But Trump also knows that Fox News can’t let itself be put in the position of choosing its moderators based on what the candidates want. In that respect, Megyn Kelly becomes a useful reason for Trump to stage a no-show.
“At the end of the day, Mr. Trump is going to have the last laugh,” said Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, during an appearance Wednesday on MSNBC.
He went on to say that Trump is, “a person who understands when a bad deal is in front of him and is ready to walk away from a bad deal, something that this country should be able to do.”
Although Kelly has refrained from responding to Trump’s insults, saying only that she intends to ask tough questions of all candidates, Fox News did not, playing to an extent into Trump’s hand.
Network executives issued a mocking statement, saying of Trump, “We’re very surprised he’s willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly.”
Fox’s tone has given Trump fresh opportunity to question the network’s journalistic impartiality. In the end, Trump’s vanishing act, while disrespectful to Iowa voters and the process, probably works in his favor. And he’s betting that his absence will hit Fox where it hurts-in the viewership ratings.