#MonaLog: Trump to skip FOX News debate while Paul returns & endorsement boost for Cruz and Rubio

Welcome to the #MonaLog – a PolitiChicks Insider into the 2016 race and I am live from Des Moines, Iowa

Donald Trump will skip FOX News debate; Rand Paul returns to the main stage; Tony Perkins endorses Ted Cruz; Governor George Pataki throws his support to Marco Rubio 

#MonaLog Countdown Clock- 5 days to Iowa, 13 days to New Hampshire, 20 days until South Carolina…

Debate Countdown- Republicans FOX News Debate held in Des Moines, Iowa is TOMORROW… Democrats debate long after Iowa and New Hampshire have their say on February 11


Donald Trump to Skip FOX Debate

After Fox News announced the debate lineup, Donald Trump’s campaign confirmed to the network that the frontrunner will skip out on Thursday’s schedule Fox News/Google debate. Prior to the lineup announcement, Trump said he “probably would not be going” to the debate, accusing Fox News of “playing games.”

“I probably won’t bother doing the debate,” Trump said at a press conference in Marshalltown, Iowa. “I’m going to do something else in Iowa… raising money for the veterans and the Wounded Warriors… simultaneously with the debate.”

Earlier in the day, Trump posted a poll on twitter asking his followers whether or not he should participate in Thursday’s debate as well as a video on Instagram. “Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that, I know that, everybody knows that,” Trump said. “Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?” As for his poll conducted on Twitter, the responses were evenly split with about half saying he should skip it.

After the Instagram video post, Fox network spokesperson issued a tongue-in-cheek statement where if Trump were President, he would conduct Twitter polls in the Oval Office. “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.

Trump fired back with a tweet calling the statement pathetic and without his appearance they would have no ratings.

Once Trump’s campaign manager Cory Lewandowski confirmed Trump announcement that he “definitely wouldn’t show up,” FOX News Chairman Roger Ailes issued a statement that “the entire network stands behind [Megyn] Kelly and she will absolutely be on the debate stage on Thursday night.” Kelly addressed the matter on her program the “The Kelly File” saying, “I will be there, the debate will go on with or without Mr. Trump.”


Rand Paul Returns to Main Stage Debate

Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul made the cut for this Thursday’s FOX News/Google primetime debate after being relegated to the undercard event two weeks ago. According to FOX News’s criteria for qualification a candidate must be in the top six in national polls or either the top five in either Iowa or New Hampshire polls.

Recent polls have Paul at 2% nationally, 3.7 in New Hampshire, and 3.8 in Iowa. Recent polls from Quinnipiac and Fox News in Iowa pushed Paul to tie for fifth place with Jeb Bush with both candidates averaging 4 percent. The recent late surge gave Paul the boost he needed to return back into the main stage.

During a conference call with reporters, Paul said his decision to boycott South Carolina debate earlier this month was the right decision. “I think it shows we made the right decision,” Paul said during the phone conference. “We are not a second-tier campaign and I am glad that the networks agree with us.”

A total of eight candidates are set to participate in the main debate. However after the announcement, Trump confirmed that he would not partake in the debate, leaving only seven candidates to battle it out. This is the last chance for the rest of the candidates on the main stage to reach out to a national audience before Iowa voters head out to caucus Monday night.


Tony Perkins Endorses Ted Cruz

During his appearance on “The Kelly File” Tuesday night, President of Family Research Council (FRC) Tony Perkins endorsed Ted Cruz for President. “I have many friends in this race, but I believe the one who is best positioned, best prepared to lead this nation forward, pulling it out of the tailspin this President has put us in,” Perkins said. “I believe it is Ted Cruz. He is smart, he is bold, much like you, he is not afraid to upset people to do the right thing.”

The personal endorsement from Perkins doesn’t come as a surprise, but the timing helps give Cruz the edge leading up to the Iowa caucuses on Monday. Perkins now joins a growing list of prominent Evangelical and conservative leaders who have officially backed Cruz presidency. “Let me just say up front that this is a personal endorsement, not from any of the non-profit organizations that I lead,’ Perkins said. When asked by Kelly why he is supporting Cruz over Donald Trump who recently picked up a prominent Evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. who is also the president of Liberty University, Perkins pointed out how Cruz says what he says he is going to do. “Because, I know [Cruz]. I have worked with him. I watched him in the Senate. I have seen him stand up against his colleagues and I have seen him take the criticism and he is simply doing what he said he was going to do when he ran for Senate,” Perkins explained. “I trust Ted to do what needs to be done to make our families safe again, to give our country a reputation that has standing among the nations.”

Cruz was honored by the endorsement from Perkins and issued a statement following the announcement. “Tony is a man of incredible principle and faith,” said Cruz. “His unwavering commitment to fight for life and marriage, and religious liberty have reverberated throughout the nation and continue to awaken a culture of life and faith throughout our communities. Tony is a steadfast fighter for the principles that have made this country a shining beacon for liberty. I am honored to have his blessing and endorsement for 2016 so that we can together coalesce conservatives and restore the values upon which this nation was founded.”

Watch the whole interview


George Pataki Endorses Marco Rubio

Former New York Governor George Pataki is throwing is support behind Florida Senator Marco Rubio for the GOP presidential nomination. “I am proud to endorse Marco Rubio,” Pataki said in an interview with Fox News show American Newsroom. “Rubio is going to bring us together. We have had a president who has divided us for political benefit…Donald Trump is dividing us so he gets the benefit.”

He added that he isn’t going to just endorse him but help him win this election. “I don’t just intend to endorse [Rubio],” Pataki added. “I am going to do everything I can to help the senator win this election.”

Pataki was asked on whether Rubio is similar to President Obama, with both being junior senators who sought a presidential bid without finishing their term, Pataki rejected that notion pointing out that both men are different. “Their backgrounds are different, their ideas are different and their vision for the future of America’s totally different,” Pataki said. “I have enormous confidence that Marco Rubio is ready today to be president of the United States. He’s provided great leadership. He did it in the state Legislature in Florida.”

When asked why he didn’t endorse Trump, being that he is also from New York, Pataki noted his recent controversial comments “have been outrageous and bigoted.”

“I don’t think [Trump] is fit to have his finger on the nuclear button.” However, Pataki added that he would still support the Republican nominee, including Trump over Clinton. “I will not vote for Hillary Clinton for president,” he said. “I would support any Republican, but I am endorsing and supporting Rubio and going to work very hard for him to win.”

Mona Salama

Mona Salama is a PolitiChicks political reporter based in New York City covering politics and NYPD. She reports broadly on the 2016 campaign trail from the road and at home. Prior to joining PolitiChicks, Mona started with Wayne Dupree's WAAR where she covered NY politics, 2014 mid-term elections, and the NYPD. In 2015, DC Gazette considers Mona as one of the 20 rising Conservative stars. She was cited as "generally one of the most stunning women in political commentary with a huge future ahead of her, we’re pretty sure Mona Salama will soon easily be the next Andrea Tantaros and a common conservative household name." Currently she is finishing her Masters, all while at the same time covering the 2016 Presidential race, in Public Policy at John Jay College in New York City. Mona can be followed on twitter at @MonaSalama_ and email: [email protected]

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