Donald Trump: Skipping Debate ‘Very Risky But I Think It Turned Out Great’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to veterans at Drake University on January 28, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Donald Trump held his alternative event to benefit veterans after withdrawing from the televised Fox News/Google GOP debate which airs at the same time.
Christopher Furlong/Getty
Washington, DC

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump said skipping the Fox News primary debate on Thursday night “was very risky,” but he thinks it “turned out great.”

“I did something that was very risky, but I think it turned out great,” Trump told his supporters at a campaign rally Friday morning in New Hampshire, referencing how he boycotted the GOP primary debate hosted by Fox News on Thursday night, but added that he ended up being on the front page of many newspapers.

“Fox was very nice. They very much wanted me for the debate,” the real estate mogul added.

He said he told Fox News he would do the debate if the network would “give five million dollars to the vets.” But Fox News didn’t comply, “They probably had a hard time doing that. Maybe,” Trump commented.

“I had an amazing soldier last night, John…he made an amazing speech,” Trump said of a wounded veteran who spoke at Trump’s fundraiser for veterans that he held in Des Moines, Iowa simultaneously with the debate.

Trump was referencing John Wayne Walding, who spent 12 years in the U. S. Army and received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Hear,t and the Combat infantry badge.

Trump raised roughly six million dollars for veterans and personally donated one million dollars.

Special guests included fellow GOP presidential candidates Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rick Santorum. The fundraiser benefited 22 different organizations, many of which are based in Iowa.

Trump issued a statement following the fundraiser late Thursday night:

Our Veterans have been treated like third-class citizens and it is my great honor to support them with this $1 million dollar contribution – they are truly incredible people. We are going to strengthen our military, take care of our Vets and Make America Great Again.

“These politicians run their debate,” Trump told his supporters at Friday’s rally, saying that while they’re “talking, talking, talking,” he’s out raising money for incredible people.

Trump’s event benefiting veterans and wounded warriors took place at Drake University, where the auditorium only held about 750 people, according to Trump.

“We had thousands of people outside – thousands! When you see that kind of love, it was a great feeling. We had an amazing time,” he added.