Donald Trump Was Planning To Attend Iowa Debate

by Claire Elizabeth Felter

When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump asked his Twitter and Instagram followers on whether he should actually attend January's GOP primary debate in Iowa after vowing to boycott it, it was anyone's guess what would happen. Trump didn't show up, but no one really knew at the time how close Donald Trump actually was to attending the Iowa debate. On The Tonight Show Thursday, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly revealed the difference between yes or no was a mere hours.

When his campaign manager stated two days before last Thursday's event that he'd be skipping out on the round, Trump later announced plans to hold a charity fundraising event. It seemed that was the end of that Trump-related drama. But it turns out the billionaire may have been playing everyone for a lot longer than anyone realized.

Jimmy Fallon went for the skeletons in the closet of the not-so-distant past when he asked Kelly about the controversy, and Kelly told the late-night TV host pretty plainly that the network had received notice later in the afternoon stating Trump indeed planned to attend:

Yes. There was a report that came out late that day of the debate … it was like 2:30, 3:30 in the afternoon, saying he’s coming.

Kelly's reveal that Trump wasn't a definite no-show right up until debate start time means that the front-runner candidate was willing to put Fox News in an even worse bind than originally thought. The RSVP flip-flopping did indeed have the debate moderators scrambling a bit. But Kelly, being the boss broadcast reporter that she is, made sure the team was ready to go whether or not Trump decided to make an appearance. Said Kelly,

So, we had just pulled all of our Trump questions out of our debate files. Then we put them all back in. When we went out there, we had one big Trump pile and one big non-Trump pile.
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Trump's campaign team has reported that Trump was always set on scheduling something else in place of the Iowa debate, but it was pretty clear that Trump bowed out to avoid going up against the formidable Kelly. In the end, the moderator had the final word during Tonight Show appearance.