Manchester, New Hampshire – January 17, 2024
In a turn of events signaling a significant setback for the Republican primary debate scene, CNN has decided to cancel its upcoming debate in New Hampshire, scheduled for January 21. The decision follows the withdrawal of both “former president Donald Trump and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley” from the event.
This comes just a day after ABC News called off its debate in the state, citing the same reason for key participants declining invitations.
The last Republican debate featured only two candidates on stage, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. With only DeSantis accepting CNN’s invitation, the network made the call to cancel the New Hampshire primary debate.
A spokesperson for CNN expressed disappointment about the cancellation but affirmed the network’s commitment to exploring other opportunities as the 2024 campaign season unfolds. The debate was originally slated to take place at New England College, just two days before the crucial New Hampshire primary.
Notably, the absence of Donald Trump considered the front-runner in the primary race, has been a recurring theme in the GOP debates. Despite his leading position, Trump has consistently declined to participate in any of the debates.
Nikki Haley, who had participated in previous debates, including the Iowa caucuses where she finished third behind Trump and DeSantis, declined invitations from both CNN and ABC News. In a statement, Haley mentioned her decision to abstain from debates that don’t include Trump or President Biden. She emphasized her commitment to participating in debates only during the general election season, provided Biden is also on stage.
Expressing frustration about the situation last week, Haley signaled her reluctance to engage in New Hampshire debates without Trump’s participation, a sentiment echoed in her decision to skip both CNN and ABC News debates.
In response to Haley’s withdrawal, Ron DeSantis took to Twitter, accusing her of being “afraid to participate in the remaining debates.” He emphasized his commitment to honoring his obligations and pledged to engage in the debate, even if facing empty podiums representing Trump and Haley.
While the cancellation of the CNN debate is a setback for New Hampshire voters hoping for a robust exchange of ideas among the Republican candidates, the political landscape remains dynamic, and alternative opportunities may arise as the 2024 campaign progresses.