Next Republican debate canceled after Nikki Haley says she’ll only participate if Donald Trump does

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gestures to the audience as she concludes a speech at a caucus night party at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — ABC News on Tuesday canceled the next Republican presidential debate after Nikki Haley said she wouldn’t participate unless former President Donald Trump takes part in it, leaving Gov. Ron DeSantis as the only candidate committed to Thursday’s event in New Hampshire.

“We’ve had five great debates in this campaign,” Haley said in a statement, released as she campaigned in New Hampshire. “Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them. He has nowhere left to hide. The next debate I do will either be with Donald Trump or with Joe Biden. I look forward to it.”


Her statement was released a day after the all-important Iowa caucuses, in which Trump marked a wide margin of victory over both Haley and DeSantis. With the two locked in a heated competition for second place in Iowa, Haley tried to make her electoral argument more about Trump than DeSantis, repeatedly echoing her refrain that her candidacy marks a turnabout from the “chaos” that follows the GOP front-runner.

The move also could be a result of the last debate which featured only Haley and DeSantis, in which Haley didn’t perform as well as expected, and DeSantis ultimately ended up beating her for second place in Iowa.

Haley had argued to caucusgoers that picking her gives Republicans a better chance to defeat Biden in November, pointing to survey data showing her with the largest lead among the GOP field in a theoretical general election matchup.

“Our intent was to host a debate coming out of the Iowa caucuses, but we always knew that would be contingent on the candidates and the outcome of the race,” ABC News spokesperson Van Scott said in a statement.

Haley’s decision also casts doubt on another New Hampshire debate scheduled for Sunday on CNN.

On X, DeSantis said Haley “is afraid to debate because she doesn’t want to answer the tough questions.”

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