Donald Trump’s climbdowns at the end of this week don’t stop with Ted Cruz, apparently. In an interview with Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg, Trump committed to attending the next Republican debate on Fox News on March 3rd, even with Megyn Kelly as moderator. He claimed that his boycott of the last Fox debate had “nothing to do with Megyn Kelly“:
“I’ll be there, I have no objection to being there,” Trump said Friday on the “Steve Malzberg Show,” when asked if he’d be at the Fox News debate in March
“And that had nothing to do with Megyn Kelly, the fact that I went out of the last one had to do with a memo that was sent out by Fox that was a little bit taunting and I said it was inappropriate,” he continued.
“And what happened is because I didn’t do it I raised $6 million for the vets. So I wouldn’t have changed places, I mean I did the right thing.”
This is pure spin, and half-hearted spin at best. Yes, Fox News sent out the taunting (and in my opinion, unprofessional) press release, but it was in response to demands by Trump to remove Kelly as a debate moderator. Trump picked that fight himself all over again, perhaps hoping to score some voter enthusiasm by attacking the media, or just to get some more free media in the run-up to the caucuses. Trump’s campaign threatened a boycott before that press release if Kelly was allowed to moderate the debate, and Trump himself polled his social-media followers on whether or not to follow through on that threat. As Allahpundit noted at the time, the Fox News press release was in response to that polling/trolling, not the cause of it.
Now Trump wants to pretend that the issue wasn’t about Kelly, but that’s pretty close to urinating on the heads of anyone who paid attention and then commenting on the rainfall. He doesn’t want to admit that he blew it in Iowa by bailing out of the debate, and that Trump’s got little choice but to retreat and show up for the next debate unless he wants to continue to rattle late deciders with concerns about his temperament. That’s why he’s backing down from the fight with Cruz as well. He finally got stung with his antics when it counted, and Trump realizes that people need reasons to take him seriously when it comes to voting for him, not just be entertained by the spectacle. How long he can maintain that discipline is anyone’s guess.