Fox News confirms that its March 21 GOP presidential candidate debate from Salt Lake City has been canceled—due to the pullout of two of the three remaining candidates.
"On Feb. 20, the Republican National Committee announced that a GOP presidential primary debate would be held on March 21 in Salt Lake City," said Michael Clemente, EVP, news, for FNC, in a statement. "They offered that debate to Fox News Channel to host, provided there were enough candidates actively campaigning. This morning, Donald Trump announced he would not be participating in the debate," said Clemente, which set the dominos in motion.
"Shortly afterward, John Kasich's campaign announced that without Trump at the debate, Kasich would not participate. Ted Cruz has expressed a willingness to debate Trump or Kasich – or both. But obviously, there needs to be more than one participant. So the Salt Lake City debate is cancelled," he said.
Fox had planned to use its same trio of moderators. The debate was to have aired on the eve of the Utah and Arizona primaries and hosted by FNC's go-to debate team of Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace, who hosted the three previous FNC GOP debates.
Those three debates have been the three highest-rated programs of any type in Fox News’ history, topped by the first debate on Aug. 6 with 24 million viewers.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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