Donald Trump:’I don’t think I have the kind of leverage I’d like to have in a deal and I don’t want to take the chance of hurting my campaign. So I’ll do the debate!’
Donald Trump is reluctantly agreeing to participate in the next Republican primary debate hosted by CNN on Dec. 15, after threatening to skip it if the network refused to pay him $5 million to attend.
“When you’re leading in the polls, I think it’s too big of a risk to not do the debate,” Trump told The Washington Post in a Thursday interview.
“I don’t think I have the kind of leverage I’d like to have in a deal and I don’t want to take the chance of hurting my campaign. So I’ll do the debate," the GOP front-runner continued.
“If I don’t do 'em, the problem will be, ‘Oh, he’s chicken, he’s using that as an excuse.’ Every single person doing the debate would knock the hell out of me and say I’m afraid to be there. The one thing I’m not in life is a chicken."
Trump’s decision to attend the debate comes after CNN President Jeff Zucker earlier Thursday said he won’t pay the billionaire businessman to participate.
“We do not pay candidates to appear" on the network, Zucker told BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith.
At a Monday rally in Georgia, Trump proposed CNN pay him $5 million to attend the debate, saying he would donate the money to wounded veterans.
Previous GOP primary debates have seen record viewing numbers, which many attribute to Trump's bombastic presence.