After taunting CNN to pay him $5 million to confirm participation in the next GOP debate, Donald Trump told Washington Post on Thursday that he will appear at the network’s Dec. 15 forum in Las Vegas.
“When you’re leading in the polls, I think it’s too big of a risk to not do the debate,” Trump told the Washington Post. “I don’t think I have the kind of leverage I’d like to have in a deal, and I don’t want to take the chance of hurting my campaign. So, I’ll do the debate.”
On Nov. 30, Trump said at a rally in Macon, Georgia, “CNN gave me the worst story, it’s like the meeting didn’t even take place.” He continued, “So maybe, how would you like to do this? … I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors [Project] or goes to vets.”
“I’ve been talking to them,” Trump said of CNN Thursday. “CNN is going to make a fortune because of me. I would love to say, ‘Give $5 million to Wounded Warriors.’ … I still hope they do.”
According to the Washington Post, Trump addressed criticism he’d receive if he didn’t participate. “If I don’t do ’em, the problem will be, ‘Oh, he’s chicken, he’s using that as an excuse.’ Every single person doing the debate would knock the hell out of me and say I’m afraid to be there. The one thing I’m not in life is a chicken.”
On Thursday morning, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker said at the Paley Center’s breakfast series in New York, “We do not pay candidates to appear at debates.”