Donald Trump on Thursday night, speaking at his own fundraiser occurring at the same time as the GOP primary debate, claimed that he received multiple calls from Fox News in an effort to try and get him to participate in the event.
Trump stuck to his guns, though, he said, “out of respect for myself.”
The Republican presidential candidate, who days earlier decided to withdraw from the debate held in Des Moines, Iowa, after being mocked by the network, spoke at his fundraiser for wounded veterans at Drake University.
A heckler did sneak into the crowd; it was unclear what the person was yelling before they were escorted out. Trump commented that the only time cameras show how big the crowd he draws is when there is a heckler among them.
During the event, Trump made note that Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter and his wife, Laura, will donate $1 million to the fundraiser.
“One of the great, great men of our country in terms of business and talent,” Trump said.
A rep for Perlmutter said: “The Perlmutters are thrilled to support their friend Donald Trump in his efforts to help veterans.”
The Perlmutters also donated $2 million to Marco Rubio’s campaign this season.
Fellow GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum also made an appearance at Trump’s event. The two men, who earlier debated on the undercard round of the Fox News debate, said they were there to support veterans. Santorum joked he didn’t want to stand too close to a Trump sign so his picture wouldn’t be taken with it.
In a taped interview on his private plane shortly before the event with CNN, Trump said voters were not missing out on hearing from him because he’ll be speaking at “a bigger event.”
Trump also told CNN that “top people” at Fox News called him multiple times throughout the day because “they want me [at the debate] very badly.” Trump said he had been apologized to from Fox News, but he would not identify who said it.
Had he not had his own event, Trump said he may have considered attending the debate. Trump said he spoke to the network during the day and was “extremely nice,” adding, “they did apologize.”
In response, Fox News released the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter:
Roger Ailes had three brief conversations with Donald Trump today about possibly appearing at the debate — there were not multiple calls placed by Ailes to Trump. In the course of those conversations, we acknowledged his concerns about a satirical observation we made in order to quell the attacks on Megyn Kelly, and prevent her from being smeared any further.
Furthermore, Trump offered to appear at the debate upon the condition that FOX News contribute $5 million to his charities. We explained that was not possible and we could not engage in a quid pro quo, nor could any money change hands for any reason.
In the last 48 hours, we’ve kept two issues at the forefront — we would never compromise our journalistic standards and we would always stand by our journalist, Megyn Kelly. We have accomplished those two goals and we are pleased with the outcome. We’re very proud to have her on stage as a debate moderator alongside Bret Baier & Chris Wallace.
There had been friction between Fox News and Trump leading up to the debate; the billionaire businessman demanded Kelly, one of the three moderators, be dropped from the event because Trump claimed she was biased toward him.
The rift between the parties grew from there as the back and forth continued until Trump finally had enough.
Watch CNN’s interview with Trump below:
“I’m not a person that respects Megyn Kelly very much,” Donald J. Trump remarked during an interview ahead of tonight’s #GOPDebate — an event he’s skipping. http://cnn.it/1P0VGaNBrianna Keilar’s full interview: http://cnn.it/1lZ6IoP
Posted by CNN on Thursday, January 28, 2016