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Donald Trump announces to skip Presidential debate

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Washington: Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential candidate surprised everyone in the party, making a sudden announcement that he would not attend Thursday’s Presidential debate.

Escalating a long-running feud with debate host Fox News Channel four days before the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contests, the real estate mogul said he would instead host a competing event in the state to raise money for wounded warriors.

“And Fox will go from probably having 24 million viewers to about 2 million,” said campaign manager Corey Lewandowski referring to the fact that the Republic debates have become must-watch television events largely thanks to the reality TV star’s antics.

“Why should the networks continue to get rich on the debates?” Trump himself told reporters at a news conference in Marshalltown. “Why do I have to make Fox rich?”

Trump had objected to the participation of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as one of the three moderators, claiming she has treated him unfairly with both her questioning of him at last August’s debate and her commentary since then.

Trump, probably the first major candidate to skip a debate, also took umbrage with a “wise-guy press release” that the network issued earlier on Tuesday saying it was inappropriately antagonistic and childish.

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes President, a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings,” the statement said.

When Trump read the statement, he shot back with a tweet, calling it a “pathetic attempt by Fox News to try and build up ratings for the #GOPDebate.”

He added, “Without me they’d have no ratings!”

Media analysts asked whether Fox would leave an empty podium at centre stage during Thursday’s event, which is the last Republican debate before the all-important Iowa caucuses.

But analysts were in agreement that, the debate boycott is unlikely to hurt Trump in the national polls even as he is accused of ducking face-to-face confrontations with his opponents and questions from debate moderators.

Trump’s announcement came hours after a new poll found him hitting a new high in the race for the Republican nomination with 41 percent Republican voters nationwide backing him.

Significantly more than two-thirds of Republicans said he’s the candidate most likely to capture their party’s presidential nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.

Trump’s backing was more than double the support of his nearest competitor, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who notched 19 percent support in the poll.

No other candidate hit double-digits. Florida Senator Marco Rubio landed at 8 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 6 percent, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 5 percent, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 4 percent, and the rest at 3 percent or less.

Trump was also widely seen as the candidate best able to win in November with 63 percent of Republicans saying so, compared with 16 percent who saw Cruz as best positioned to win and 10 percent who named Rubio.

But in the hypothetical general election, Trump appeared to fare slightly worse than either Cruz or Rubio when matched up against either Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton or her rival Bernie Sanders.(IANS)

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President Donald Trump Key Force In Driving The Midterms Elections

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally endorsing the Republican ticket in Erie, Pennsylvania, VOA

Three weeks before a crucial U.S. midterm election, it would be difficult to find much that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Both parties, however, seem to agree on one thing: President Donald Trump will be the key issue in elections that will determine control of Congress for the next two years.

For many voters, the “Trump factor” could be a deciding consideration in this year’s midterms. And as the president campaigns on behalf of Republicans around the country, he is quick to remind his supporters that he has a huge personal stake in the outcome on Nov. 6.

“All of this extraordinary progress is at stake,” Trump told a recent rally in Southaven, Mississippi. “I’m not on the ballot. But in a certain way, I am on the ballot. So please, go out and vote. Go out and vote.”

Motivating Democrats

As much as Trump motivates his core supporters, he also energizes critics like Jenny Heinz, who helped organize a recent anti-Trump rally in New York City.

“There is an active resistance to this president, who is operating as if he is above the law.”

No question, Trump is the central figure in this year’s election, according to American University analyst David Barker.

“Yes, Democrats from the day after the election in 2016 have been waiting for this day, and it is all about Trump,” Barker told VOA. “Trump fully embraces that. He wants it to be all about him.”

Historically, midterm elections have been a mix of local issues, local candidates, and partly a referendum on the sitting president.

This year’s campaign seems to have accelerated a trend whereby midterm congressional elections have increasingly become nationalized.

“It really is now all national, and everyone is kind of looking at this as either a referendum for or against the president and his party,” said George Washington University expert Lara Brown.

Trump
supporters of President Donald Trump, wearing Mike Braun for Congress shirts, cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. VOA

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of voters in both parties said a congressional candidate who shares their view of Trump is an important consideration as they assess the coming midterms.

Seizing the spotlight

Unlike some presidents who have tried to resist the idea that the midterms are a presidential referendum, Trump has willingly embraced it.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon told Associated Press Television that he favors the approach.

“I think if you make this a national referendum and nationalize this election on the success of President Trump’s program, it is a clear winner, and I think the Democrats get crushed.”

Others are skeptical, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

“All right, fine. You want it to be about you? Well, every candidate on the ballot now has to account for your behavior, has to account for your tweets,” said Steele, a recent guest on VOA’s Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren.

Climate Change, Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

Trump hopes to boost Republican turnout in November; but, Democrats argue he is likely to be just as effective in spurring their voters to the polls.

Maryland Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger also spoke on Plugged In.

“When all you do is care about yourself and not about people, not about what they need – like your seniors needing medical care. And you just want to look good and knock them out (politically), which is happening, this is hurting. And this is why, I think, a lot of people will come out (to vote).”

Tending the base

Trump has been aggressive on the campaign trail courting his base, especially in Republican-leaning states where many of this year’s closer Senate races are taking place.

“They are focusing on their base, and they are trying to make sure that they are going to show up and vote. And it could make some difference in close midterm elections,” said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato.

Trump, USA
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, . VOA

Some Republicans have urged Trump to try and broaden his appeal beyond his base during campaign visits this year.

But Gallup pollster Frank Newport said the president has limited options.

Also Read: Obama On Why Its Important To Vote In This Midterm Elections

“He has kind of given up on attempting to broaden his appeal, it looks like. It fits more with his style,” said Newport. “He has, as we all know, a very combative style. He likes to have enemies because that gives him somebody to fight against. So, it would be hard for a president like Trump anyway to try and broaden his appeal.”

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters, and the midterm results could determine the future of his presidency. (VOA)