After a crowded stage in August for the first GOP presidential primary debate, the number of participants has dwindled down over the course of several subsequent events.
CNN had planned to host a debate on Sunday, just two days before the New Hampshire primary, but canceled due to the fact that only one qualifying candidate — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — had accepted the invitation.
Front-runner Donald Trump has declined to participate in each of the primary debates and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who squared off against DeSantis in a head-to-head debate earlier this month, said she would only take part in a debate against Trump or President Joe Biden.
“We’ve had five great debates in this campaign,” Haley said. “Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them. He has nowhere left to hide. The next debate I do will either be with Donald Trump or with Joe Biden. I look forward to it.”
A CNN spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that it was “no longer moving forward” with the planned event. That announcement came on the heels of a similar cancellation by ABC News, which had planned to host another debate this week.
ABC News cancels Republican debate after Haley opted out unless Trump participates https://t.co/dsgzYhiHw0
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 17, 2024
“Our intent was to host a debate coming out of the Iowa caucuses, but we always knew that would be contingent on the candidates and the outcome of the race,” said a network spokesperson on Tuesday.
In place of the ABC News debate scheduled for Thursday, Haley agreed to participate in a CNN town hall event moderated by anchor Jake Tapper.
For his part, DeSantis took to social media to share his thoughts about Haley’s decision.
“Nikki Haley is afraid to debate because she doesn’t want to answer the tough questions such as how she got rich off Boeing after giving them millions in taxpayer handouts as governor of South Carolina,” he wrote. “The reality is that she is not running for the nomination, she’s running to be Trump’s VP. I won’t snub New Hampshire voters like both Nikki Haley and Donald Trump, and plan to honor my commitments. I look forward to debating two empty podiums in the Granite State this week.”