- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 28, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It will take a few hours for Neilsen Media to release the audience ratings numbers for the seventh Republican debate on Thursday in Iowa. Many will be waiting for those numbers, hoping to determine if the absence of front-runner Donald Trump had a major impact on the political programming which has brought host network Fox News record-breaking ratings in months past.

Mr. Trump dropped out of the debate earlier this week after Fox News refused to replace moderator Megyn Kelly, the primetime host who has disagreed with the GOP hopeful in the past. Friends and foes of Mr. Trump have taken sides in the matter; some praise his decision to stage a major fundraiser for military veterans in place of the debate, others welcome his outspoken absence on the stage. The candidate continues to lead the Republican race in key states and in multiple polls however - including an online survey conducted by Fox News host Greta Van Susteran which revealed that 85 percent of her viewers would not watch a “Trumpless” debate.

Not everyone has accolades for the billionaire candidate, who has on occasion been compared to Ronald Reagan.

“Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he will not attend a debate scheduled for Thursday night in Des Moines, an unexpected twist just days before voters here launch the election process,” points outs Reagan biographer and presidential historian Craig Shirley.

“Ronald Reagan never ran away from a fight. Now apparently Donald Trump did just that. So much for comparisons between him and Reagan. Ronald Reagan is widely known as The Great Communicator. Donald Trump may be more aptly known as ‘The Mouth.’ ” Mr. Shirley says.

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