Tuesday January 22, 2019
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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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Democrats Stand Firm Against Donald Trump’s Exchange Offer

Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said Democrats should not "reward the kind of behaviour of hostage-taking"

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President Donald Trump speaks about American missile defense doctrine, Jan 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. VOA

Despite President Donald Trump’s offer to end the ongoing partial government shutdown and fund a border wall in exchange for temporary protections for groups of immigrants, Democrats stood by their demand to reopen the government before negotiating about the border.

“Let’s not hold the American people, especially the federal workers, hostage to these negotiations,” South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn, a member of Democratic leadership, told Fox News on Sunday.

“And hopefully we will open with what he has put on the table, and let’s go back and forth on this and see where we can find common ground.”

The Democratic rejection came as Vice President Mike Pence made clear on Sunday that the Republicans intended to go forward with the plan the President outlined on Saturday during a 13-minute televised speech from the White House, CNN reported.

Trump has suggested extending protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme recipients for three years and a three-year extension of protections for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

The shutdown that began on December 22, has left roughly a quarter of the government closed and forcing 800,000 federal employees furloughed or work without pay.

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Trump presses Democrats on border wall funding ahead of Senate meeting. VOA

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected it even before Trump spoke. On Sunday, the President took to Twitter to slam Pelosi for rejecting his deal.

“Nancy Pelosi and some of the Democrats turned down my offer yesterday (Saturday) before I even got up to speak. They don’t see crime and drugs, they only see 2020 – which they are not going to win. Best economy! They should do the right thing for the country and allow people to go back to work.

“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a three year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy,” he said in a series of tweets.

Some other Democrat leaders have also slammed the President’s offer.

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New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who entered the 2020 race just days ago, told CNN on Sunday that Trump’s offer of only temporary protection from deportation showed he “has no empathy” for people affected by the decision.

Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said Democrats should not “reward the kind of behaviour of hostage-taking”.

Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, meanwhile, told CNN that “both sides” were responsible for the ongoing impasse and called for genuine negotiations. (IANS)