The seventh Republican primary debate on Thursday will be missing one podium and, with it, the political pageantry that is Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. On Tuesday, the real estate mogul made it known that he would not be attending Fox News' debate, which is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
The primary reason for Trump's absence? Bad blood between the real estate mogul and Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who will be moderating the night and with whom Trump butted heads at the first Fox News GOP debate on Aug. 6. Since then, tension has persisted between Trump and Kelly.
"I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct," Trump wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. "Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!"
"As many of our viewers know, FOX News is hosting a sanctioned debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night, three days before the first votes of the 2016 election are cast in the Iowa Caucus," said a Fox News spokesperson, in an emailed statement to Mic.
"Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented. We're not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage," the statement continued.
During the last Fox News debate, Kelly challenged Trump on the rhetoric he uses to describes women he doesn't like, particularly words like "'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs,' and 'disgusting animals.'" Trump hit back with a barage of Twitter insults, and the business tycoon has made something of a habit out of waging personal attacks against Kelly, particularly on Twitter. In a recent instance, on Jan. 11, Trump wrote "@megynkelly recently said that she can't be wooed by Trump. She is so average in every way, who the hell wants to woo her!"
According to Fox News' spokesperson, Trump's campaign staff has been bullish with the network and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been threatening with regards to Kelly.
"Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so," read the statement from Fox News' spokesperson. "We can't give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees. Trump is still welcome at Thursday night's debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on FOX News & FOX Business, but he can't dictate the moderators or the questions."
Without Trump onstage, seven Republican candidates will debate during the main event — former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Four candidates will participate in an undercard debate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
And ahead of the debate, it's possible the Republican frontrunner will discuss his decision not to attend the debate during a Wednesday night appearance on the O'Reilly Factor at 8 p.m. Eastern. Tune in to see if the candidate discloses anything huge.