Another Republican debate is canceled after Haley says she'll only participate if Trump does, too

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a Fox News Town Hall, Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Another Republican presidential debate has been canceled after Nikki Haley’s refusal to participate in any forum that doesn’t also include former President Donald Trump, meaning that for the first time in years there will not be an on-the-ground face-off ahead of New Hampshire’s primary next week.

CNN announced Wednesday that it was calling off its debate, which had been scheduled for Sunday at New England College.

That comes a day after ABC and WMUR-TV said they were also canceling Thursday’s debate, planned at Saint Anselm College, following Haley’s assertion that the next debate in which she participates “will either be with Donald Trump or Joe Biden.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had committed to take part in both debates, but with front-runner Trump having skipped all of the GOP debates thus far, Haley’s participation had been the deciding factor in whether they would go on.

The move by the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador could be in part a result of the last debate, which featured only Haley and DeSantis. Haley didn’t perform as well as expected, and DeSantis ultimately ended up beating her for second place in Monday’s lead-off Iowa caucuses.

Haley’s decision to skip prompted reaction from her GOP rivals, with DeSantis saying that Haley “is afraid to debate because she doesn’t want to answer the tough questions” and a Trump spokesman calling her a “desperate globalist.”

Haley had argued to caucusgoers that picking her gives Republicans a better chance to defeat Biden, a Democrat, in November, pointing to survey data showing her with the largest lead among the GOP field in a theoretical general election matchup.

Although Haley finished third in Iowa, behind Trump and DeSantis, she has been shown to be better-positioned in the next state to vote, New Hampshire, and has angled to frame the remainder of the primary as a two-person race between Trump and herself.

CNN said Wednesday that it would instead host a town hall with Haley on Thursday from New England College.

DeSantis took part in his own CNN town hall on Tuesday.