Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said at a campaign event this week that he won’t appear at the next debate unless he’s paid $5 million.
Trump and the other candidates have criticized networks for how the debates have been handled, and Trump has also hit out at the immense profits that the networks generate from the debates.
Trump told the crowd in Georgia that the money would go to wounded veterans, justifying being paid by noting the big ratings–over 20 million viewers for the first debates.
“How about we do this with CNN? I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million and the money goes to wounded warriors or vets,” he said, reported Fox News.
His comments were met with applause, as he added: “Seriously! Seriously!”
However, at other times during the event he seemed more skeptical, noting that the move could be spun by his opponents.
“So what will happen is they’ll say, ‘Oh, Trump is chicken,”‘ he said.
Trump still leads the field, according to the latest poll that has him at 27 percent support with Republican voters, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (17 percent), Ben Carson (16 percent), and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (16 percent).
Trump wrote a letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker earlier this year, taking credit for the high ratings a debate drew on Fox News.
“While I refuse to brag, and you know very well, this tremendous increase in viewer interest is due 100 percent to Donald J. Trump,” he wrote, suggesting that Zucker donate some of the profits from increased advertising rates to veterans groups.
Zucker never responded to the letter.
The next Republican debate is scheduled for Las Vegas on December 15.