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Despite $5 million refusal, Trump will appear at CNN debate

The billionaire says it's "too big of a risk" not to appear at the Dec. 15 debate.

By Ann Marie Awad
Despite $5 million refusal, Trump will appear at CNN debate
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump will appear at the Dec. 15 debate organized by CNN. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Donald Trump has agreed to appear in the next televised debate, despite CNN's refusal to pay the mogul $5 million.

At a rally in Georgia on Monday, Trump told supporters: "How about we do this for CNN: I won't do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or goes to vets?" Trump accused the network of not treating him fairly.

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BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith asked CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker about the demand in an interview Thursday at the Paley Center for Media. "No," Zucker responded. "We do not pay candidates to appear."

Later Thursday, Trump told The Washington Post he would appear at the debate regardless.

"When you're leading in the polls, I think it's too big of a risk not to do the debate," he said. "I don't think I have the kind of leverage I'd like to have in a deal and I don't want to take the chance of hurting my campaign. So I'll do the debate."

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RELATED CNN refuses to give in to $5 million Trump debate demand

The change of heart comes after Trump was booed at Thursday's presidential candidates' forum at the Republican Jewish Coalition. On the same day, Trump evaded questions from Bill O'Reilly on Fox News regarding an earlier claim Trump had made about killing terrorists' families. CNN reported Trump said in an interview Wednesday: "You have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families." When O'Reilley pressed Trump about the claim Thursday, Trump responded: "I don't want to be so bold."

The debate is scheduled to take place on Dec. 15 in Las Vegas.

Politico reported Trump pulled a similar move before September's GOP debate. He penned a letter to Zucker asking him to donate all profits from the televised event to veterans charities. CNN never issued an official response, and Trump ended up appearing at the debate.

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