Fox News won’t let Donald Trump Jr and Kimberly Guilfoyle into post-debate ‘spin room’ as ex-president skips event

Cadre of allies expected to line up to speak to media on behalf of no-show former president

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 22 August 2023 14:20 BST
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Donald Trump will skip the first GOP debate

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Fox News has punched back at Donald Trump after the former president refused to participate in this week’s Republican primary debate. The network has restricted Mr Trump’s aides from participating in the traditional post-debate “spin room”, according to Axios.

Fox, which is hosting the debate in Milwaukee, will limit post-debate spin room appearances to aides of those candidates who are actually participating in the debate.

With the former president saying that he will not participate in the primary debates given his lead in the polls, he will be represented in Milwaukee on Wednesday night by his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr and his son’s fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle in addition to a number of other close allies who are also planning to attend.

The Messenger reported on Monday that there has been a move by campaign staffers of some other candidates to bar Trump representatives from monopolising the spin room at the Fox News-hosted event arranged by the Republican National Committee.

“If we didn’t agree to the RNC rules, I wouldn’t be let in the room, so why should they?” one staffer told The Messenger.

Among those expected to attend in addition to Mr Trump Jr and Ms Guilfoyle are Ohio Senator JD Vance, former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Georgia Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Florida reps Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds. It now appears they won’t be able to hype their candidate in the spin room.

An adviser to one rival candidate called the possibility of Mr Trump not showing up as “bulls***, total lunacy”.

“The best part is the irony that the dude doesn’t have the stones to show up but he’s going to send Matt Gaetz,” they added.

A Republican official explained that it is up to each network who receives passes to the room, as it is the media organisations who have paid for the space at the venue.

While some staffers for candidates have been discussing the best way in which to lobby Fox News to stop Trump allies from swamping the airwaves, others have not engaged, seeing it as a losing issue.

Instead of appearing beside the other contenders for the party’s nomination, the former president will instead give an interview online to former Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson.

Over the weekend in a post on Truth Social, Mr Trump appeared to rule out participating in any of the debates scheduled for the primary season.

He wrote: “The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!”

Those candidates who have met the criteria to appear at the first debate are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

The second will take place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California on 27 September.

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