Donald Trump will miss the final Republican presidential debate to address a major pro-Israel lobbying organization instead, according to an insider.
“Hearing that Trump secured a Monday night speaking slot at AIPAC conf. in D.C,” tweeted Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, referencing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“Also happening that night: [the] Republican debate in Salt Lake City,” he added, alluding to the 13th GOP presidential contest on March 21.
Fox News announced on Monday that it is hosting next week’s contest in Salt Lake City — its fourth event this presidential election. Trump remained non-committal later that evening when asked about his plans.
“Well, I don’t know,” he said on Fox News’s “On the Record” when asked if he would attend the contest. “I know nothing about it right now.
“I just heard somebody had announced that they wanted to do another debate,” Trump told host Greta Van Susteren. “And I don’t blame them.
“You know, the debates are getting phenomenal ratings. Not the Democrats. The Democrats are getting terrible ratings. But the Republican debates are getting phenomenal ratings. I’ll have to look into the place and time and everything else because I really don’t know anything about it.”
Trump has repeatedly suggested he would avoid additional debates as he tightens his grip on the GOP presidential nomination.
AIPAC announced last Friday that Trump would addressing its conference, which runs March 20-22. Other confirmed speakers include Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump has come under fire from two of his GOP presidential primary rivals, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), for repeatedly vowing he would stay “neutral” in the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
“I will tell you, I think if we’re ever going to negotiate a peace settlement…I think it would be more helpful as a negotiator, if I go in and say I’m pro-Israel, but at least have the other side know I’m somewhat neutral to them so that we can maybe get a deal done,” he said during the 12th GOP presidential debate in Miami last week.
Trump’s campaign, AIPAC, and the Emergency Committee for Israel did not return requests for comment on the billionaire’s upcoming plans.