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Former President Donald Trump, regarded as the leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination, has announced his decision to forgo participation in a fifth Republican primary debate. Instead, Trump will engage in a Fox News town hall event on January 10, coinciding with the timing of the GOP candidates’ debate organized by CNN in Des Moines, Iowa. Hosted by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the Fox News town hall will commence at 9:00 p.m. ET, concurrently clashing with the CNN debate set to convene in the same city just days before the Iowa caucuses, as reported by POLITICO.

Trump’s choice to skip the debate aligns with his prior strategy, which has drawn criticism from his Republican adversaries. Despite objections from his GOP opponents, Trump’s substantial lead in polling has remained steadfast throughout his absence from previous debates, a fact that underscores his continued prominence within the party.

Having previously highlighted his commanding lead in the polls, Trump’s decision to bypass the debates was reiterated in his stance prior to the initial GOP debate of the primary season in August. He emphasized his successful presidency, citing achievements such as energy independence, fortified borders, a robust military, significant tax and regulation cuts, minimal inflation, and a historic economic boom, asserting that the public is well aware of his accomplishments.

As per CNN’s information, only Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley have met the qualifications for the upcoming debate. DeSantis and Haley have been locked in a competitive race in both Iowa and New Hampshire, heightening the stakes as the caucuses and primary approach.

Haley criticized Trump’s absence from the debate stage, urging his participation as the field continues to narrow. Meanwhile, DeSantis previously voiced disapproval of Trump’s avoidance of prior debates, emphasizing the importance of engaging with Iowans, answering questions, and following the necessary steps to secure victory.

The impending CNN debate is anticipated to feature the smallest lineup in the 2024 primary cycle, with candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie failing to meet the requirements to participate. Ramaswamy plans to hold an alternate event paralleling the CNN debate, branding it a “fake Iowa ‘debate’.” Additionally, CNN is slated to host a debate in New Hampshire on January 21, and Trump’s campaign has confirmed his intent to bypass that debate as well, indicating his inclination to engage in a debate scenario only if the race tightens considerably.