Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he will not participate in Thursday’s GOP debate hosted by the Fox News Channel. Instead, Trump plans to hold an event raising funds for wounded servicemen and military veterans.
Trump’s camp says the move comes in response to media statements Fox made about his concerns about reporter Megyn Kelly, who is one of the debate’s moderators. Trump and Kelly got off to a bad start at the first debate last August when her first question to him inquired about negative remarks he previously made about women.
“Fox News is fine, I have no objection to Fox News, but they have to treat people fairly and they can’t take advantage of people,” Trump said Tuesday at an appearance in Iowa.
Also earlier today, Trump picked up the endorsement of Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., who said the candidate is “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.”
“In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment,” Falwell said. “He cannot be bought, he’s not a puppet on a string like many other candidates … who have wealthy donors as their puppet masters.”
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona also endorsed Trump during a joint appearance in Marshalltown, Iowa on Tuesday. Arpaio is known for his hard-edged stance on immigration issues.
“Donald Trump is a leader. He produces results and is ready to get tough in order to protect American jobs and families,” Arpaio said via statement. “I have fought on the front lines to prevent illegal immigration. I know Donald Trump will stand with me and countless Americans to secure our border. I am proud to support him as the best candidate for President of the United States.”
Some residents of Marshalltown, including its police chief, spoke out against the Arpaio endorsement taking place in their town, which has a growing number of Latino residents and a past filled with conflicts involving immigration law enforcement.
“Marshalltown has been enriched by the arrival and contributions of immigrants to the community,” Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper told the LA Times. “Harmful rhetoric from candidates jeopardizes the relationship that we in law enforcement have worked so hard to develop and maintain.”
“It’s like a slap in the face,” added Diego Alvarez, a 25-year-old construction worker who protested outside Trump’s event. Alvarez came to the U.S. illegally at the age of 4.
“We’re working our butts off and they’re coming in to divide the people of this community,” he added. “These people are basically importing racism from other states.”
The Iowa caucuses are February 1.