NewsNation announced on Thursday it will host the fourth Republican presidential primary debate next month in Alabama and that former Fox News and “Today” show host Megyn Kelly will be one of the moderators, along with NewsNation’s Elizabeth Vargas and the Washington Free Beacon’s Eliana Johnson.
The timely announcement of the all-female moderated debate comes after the Republican National Committee came under fire in Wednesday’s GOP debate, which was aired on NBC, for its choice of moderators. It was suggested that the RNC should tap Elon Musk, Joe Rogan, and Tucker Carlson as moderators to boost viewership — which is not to say that all would accept.
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) November 9, 2023
Kelly shared on her popular podcast back in September that she had recently met with former President Donald Trump and effectively buried the hatchet after their infamous 2016 debate clash, and the Washington Examiner asked Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign if the leading GOP presidential candidate would reconsider attending the debate.
“No,” Miller said, unequivocally.
A social media user predicted as much, given their history:
Now I know Trump won’t show up.
— FugitiveMama (@fugitivemama) November 9, 2023
While Kelly may be a step up from NBC’s Kristen Welker in the eyes of many on the right, Team MAGA would not be too happy. Kelly prides herself on pushing candidates with challenging questions. Trump has been content to ride polling numbers that he would immediately denounce if they showed anyone else in the lead and avoid any such challenges.
The Trump-Kelly feud was launched during the Aug. 6, 2015, Republican primary debate when she questioned his treatment of women over the years.
“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” Kelly said at the time, prompting Trump to come back with the gem, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”
When the two discussed that moment during their meeting this year, Trump insisted it was a “nasty question,” while Kelly held her ground to say, “It was awesome.”
Trump holds a sizable lead over the rest of the GOP field and argues that it’s not helpful to him to participate in the debates — it also sets the groundwork for President Biden to refuse to debate Trump, should he ultimately be the Republican nominee.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been challenging Trump to show up, saying the former president “owes it to our voters to come and make the case.”
“Where’s Joe Biden? He’s completely missing in action from leadership. You know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action,” DeSantis said during the GOP debate in September. “He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt, that set the stage for the inflation that we have.”
After Wednesday night’s debate, he predicted that Trump’s absence will hurt him more as voters start really tuning in.
“I think you’re going to see — because I’m on the ground in the early states — voters are now starting to really pay attention,” DeSantis told NBC News. “It is going to hurt him if he’s not willing to debate going forward because voters expect you to earn their vote.”
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