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Trump Fox News town hall crushes Haley-DeSantis Iowa debate in ratings

Ratings for former President Donald Trump’s Wednesday night Fox News town hall in Iowa outpaced those for the simultaneous CNN debate between former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by 68%, according to data released Thursday.

The 77-year-old GOP frontrunner headlined the most-watched TV show on the night, per early data published by Nielsen Media, with 4.3 million total viewers seeing his hour-long performance in Des Moines.

Just 2.53 million people watched Haley and DeSantis square off for two hours at Drake University in Iowa’s capital city.

Trump’s viewership also topped the Haley-DeSantis debate among the coveted age 25 to 54 demographic, with 553,000 tuning in for the former president’s appearance and 509,000 flipping on the gubernatorial grudge match.

The 77-year-old GOP frontrunner headlined the most-watched TV show last night, early data published by Nielsen Media shows, with 4.3 million total viewers seeing his performance in Iowa. Tannen Maury/UPI/Shutterstock
Just 2.53 million people watched the second- and third-place Republican presidential contenders Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis duke it out in Des Moines. AFP via Getty Images

The ex-commander-in-chief, who is more than 36 percentage points ahead of Haley and DeSantis in the RealClearPolitics Iowa polling average, dropped hints that he would soon choose a potential running mate and took shots at President Biden’s policies in the Middle East during the broadcast.

He also harped on “hoaxes” from his first and second presidential runs, including investigations of his campaign by the FBI over purported collusion with the Russian government in 2016 and efforts by former intelligence officials to allege damning Post reports against his chief political opponent, Joe Biden, were Kremlin-produced “disinformation”

But when asked by Fox News moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum whether his second administration would achieve “retribution” against these adversaries, Trump demurred.

Asked by Fox News moderators Bret Baier (above left) and Martha MacCallum whether his second administration would achieve “retribution” against these adversaries, Trump demurred. Tannen Maury/UPI/Shutterstock

“Well, first of all, a lot of people would say that that’s not so bad,” he said. “Look what they did — Russia Russia Russia hoax, the FBI-Twitter hoax, the 51 intelligence agents hoax, all of these different hoaxes that they did. I mean, you know, a lot of people would say, that’s probably quite normal.”

“We’re going to make this country so successful again, I’m not gonna have time for retribution,” he added. “Our ultimate retribution is success.”

Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, has been floated by some as a possible running mate to the frontrunner, and has refused again and again to rule it out as an option when confronted by the press.

Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, has been floated by some as possible a vice presidential pick for the frontrunner, and has refused again to rule it out as an option. REUTERS

“I don’t play for second,” the 51-year-old female candidate has often said in response.

The head-to-head debate pitted the two primary contestants against each other to compare their records as former state leaders — but the absence of Trump led many commentators to mock the event as “a race for second place.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also threw a curveball Wednesday afternoon by suspending his own campaign and being caught on a hot mic disparaging Haley and DeSantis hours before the debate was set to begin.

The head-to-head programming pitted the primary contestants’ against each other to compare their records as former state leaders — in an event some mocked as “a race for second place.” AP
DeSantis also focused his campaign on winning Iowa, traveling to all 99 counties to meet with voters, but is currently lagging behind Haley in the RealClear polling aggregator by 2%. JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“She’s going to get smoked. And you and I both know it, she’s not up to this,” Christie said of Haley minutes before ending his 2024 run at a New Hampshire town hall.

The Garden Stater added that DeSantis had called him “petrified,” though it was not immediately clear what had spooked the Florida governor.

DeSantis, 45, fared better in the ratings for his “Great Red vs. Blue State Debate” against California Gov. Gavin Newsom, which drew 4.75 million live viewers to FNC on Nov. 30, according to Nielsen ratings.

DeSantis has focused his campaign on winning Iowa, traveling to all 99 counties to meet with voters, but is currently lagging behind Haley in the RealClear polling aggregator by two percentage points.

Written by SaleemBaloch

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