Nikki Haley Says No More Debates Unless Trump Is Onstage

You probably didn’t watch the GOP debates and now you may not have to see headlines about them either.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event in Iowa City, Iowa on January 13, 2024

Julia Nikhinson/ AP

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You probably didn’t watch the GOP debates, and now you may not have to read headlines about them either. On Tuesday, fresh off a disappointing third place in the Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley put her foot down: The former South Carolina governor said she will no longer be on the debate stage unless Donald Trump participates.

“We’ve had five great debates in this campaign. Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them,” Haley announced. “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.”

Haley’s refusal, which could effectively end the party’s 2024 debates, reflects a larger frustration among her rivals, past and present. “We’re 17 minutes into this debate and…we’ve had these three acting as if this race is between the four of us,” Chris Christie, who dropped out of the race last week, said at last month’s debate. “The fifth guy, who doesn’t have the guts to show up  and stand here, he’s the one who, as you just put it, is way ahead in the polls.”

But it also underscores Trump’s ironclad grip on the party’s nomination despite skipping all of the season’s debates. Ron DeSantis, who came in a distant second place in Iowa, quickly hit back at Haley.

The next two GOP debates are scheduled to take place in New Hampshire. While it’s not been confirmed whether Trump will attend either, he has scheduled rallies with his Granite State supporters during that week. The Washington Post reports that both Haley and Trump have until 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday to accept ABC’s invitation.

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