Donald Trump demanded $5 million donation to appear at Fox GOP debate

 ·  Denis Slattery, NY Daily News   ·   Link to Article

Donald Trump was willing to join his fellow GOP candidates at the Fox news debate Thursday — for a small donation of $5 million.

Fox News released a statement saying that the thin-skinned reality TV star demanded a $5 million donation to his charities to appear at the final faceoff before the Iowa Caucus.

“We explained that it was not possible and we could not engage in a quid pro quo, nor could any money change hands for any reason,” the statement read.

Trump meanwhile said he was “totally open” to changing his mind, but time ran out and his own event took shape.

“I didn’t want to be here, to be honest,” Trump told the crowd at Drake University. “I wanted to be about five minutes away.”

The Republican front-runner, who has been feuding with the network, said Fox officials apologized for a cheeky statement they released earlier in the week.

“They did apologize, by the way, which was very nice... but it was just too late to go back,” Trump said.

Trump’s decision to boycott the final showdown with his fellow candidates before the Iowa Caucus followed a week of back-and-forth with Fox over moderator Megyn Kelly.

“Isn’t this better than the debate that’s going on? They’re all sleeping,” Trump told the crowd at his “Special Event to Benefit Veterans Organizations” at a 775-seat auditorium at Drake University.

Several veterans and other guests joined Trump on stage, including fellow candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

Trump said he raised nearly $6 million for vets, including his own $1 million contribution.

He added that he wasn’t worried about turning off voters who may be disappointed by his decision not to join the debate.

“We’ve had other voters that love what I’m doing because they don’t want to be pushed around by the establishment,” said Trump, who is planning to participate in the next debate in New Hampshire.

Drake University issued a statement about an hour before the rally warning that the campaign oversold the event.

“Only a small percentage of ticket holders will be admitted into the auditorium,” the school said.

A few Trump supporters who were turned away huddled outside the auditorium to watch the rally on a large screen.

The rally caused a stir among the very people Trump said he would be helping with his competing event — veterans.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America pledged to refuse any funds that Trump may try to donate.

“We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts,” IAVA founder Paul Rieckhoff tweeted.

Another organization, VoteVets.org, said in statement that Trump should not “hide from Megyn Kelly behind us.”

The website DonaldTrumpForVets.com was launched Thursday, hours ahead of the rally.

But the money raised on the website goes to the “Donald J Trump Foundation,” a non-profit that gave only $57,000 to veterans groups from 2009 to 2013, compared to the $100,000 it gave to the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2009 alone, according to The Weekly.

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