DeSantis and Haley will appear at next week’s CNN debate at the same time as Trump’s Fox town hall

(L-R) Former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley. (All photos by Gage Skidmore, from Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK (AP) | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are set to appear at next week’s Republican presidential debate on CNN, while former President Donald Trump participates in a Fox News town hall at the same time.

Both events will be held at 9 p.m. ET on Jan. 10 in Des Moines, Iowa, just five days before the state’s first-in-the-nation GOP voting contest.

The CNN debate, to be moderated by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, will be the first to focus solely on the two candidates vying to become Trump’s chief competition. The former president has been leading by wide margins in polls of likely Republican voters.

Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who participated in previous debates, did not qualify for the CNN event. Candidates needed to achieve 10% support in at least three specific polls of likely Republican voters or caucusgoers, at least one of them measuring voters just in Iowa.

In a post on X Jan. 2, Ramaswamy predicted that the DeSantis-Haley debate would be “the most boring in modern history” and said he would participate in a podcast hosted by Tim Pool instead.

Trump did not participate in any of the earlier debates, saying he didn’t want to lend credence to his lower-polling rivals. He has instead typically held competing events, including an interview with Tucker Carlson and traveling to Michigan to criticize President Joe Biden and his push for electric cars during an autoworkers’ strike.

His town hall next Wednesday will air in the time slot normally held by one of his top media supporters, Sean Hannity. But Hannity will be preempted that night, with Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum instead moderating that session.

It was not immediately clear whether it was the Trump campaign or Fox News that initiated plans for the town hall. A CNN spokeswoman declined to comment on the counterprogramming.

DeSantis and Haley have both criticized Trump for not participating in the debates.

“With only three candidates qualifying, it’s time for Donald Trump to show up,” Haley said Jan. 2. “As the debate stage continues to shrink, it’s getting harder for Donald Trump to hide.”

Meanwhile, NBC News and The Des Moines Register said it would hold a series of 30-minute interviews with DeSantis, Haley and Ramaswamy that will posted digitally on Wednesday. Trump and Christie declined the interview requests, NBC said.

Haley and DeSantis will also appear in back-to-back town hall events on CNN Jan. 4.

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