Although many voters were looking forward to seeing Donald Trump face Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in a second presidential debate, the Republican frontrunner chose to sit out the event, claiming that the network and Kelly are unfairly biased against him. Trump has continued a mostly one-sided feud with Kelly since she asked him about his past sexist comments in the first GOP forum in August, and refused to participate in another debate that she was moderating. During the seventh GOP debate Thursday night, what Kelly said about Trump faced the controversy head on.
During the seventh debate, Kelly brought up Trump right away (I mean, how could she not?), asking Ted Cruz about his absence and addressing the "elephant not in the room." With so much hype surrounding Trump's boycott of the Fox News event, Kelly decided to bring it up in her very first question of the night instead of pretending like it wasn't on everyone's mind. More so than an attack on Trump, Kelly's pointed inquiry challenged Cruz on his every-changing relationship with Trump and the Trump campaign. Explaining that he originally applauded Trump and then switched his tune when Trump attacked him, she asked Cruz how he really felt.
Here's the full question Kelly asked Cruz immediately after the debate kicked off:
The divide between you and Mr. Trump has turned into one of the biggest stories in the country. And for six months that — your campaign, during this campaign, you praised Mr. Trump as somebody who you thought was an effective voice against the Washington cartel. You said you were glad that he was running as a Republican. But when he started to criticize you, your message changed, and you suddenly started to portray him as the voice of the Washington cartel, and suggested he would do the Democrats' bidding. Which is it?
The Trump-Kelly feud culminated on Thursday with Trump retweeting photos of Kelly posing somewhat provocatively in GQ, with captions that read, "Criticizes Trump for objectifying women. Poses like this in GQ magazine.," and "And this is the bimbo that's asking presidential questions?" However, he previously tweeted: "I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!" Whether he calls her that derogatory term or not, it's clear that he isn't a fan.
Kelly never directly responded to Trump's attacks, only saying after the August debate that her job is to ask probing questions. After Trump announced that he would boycott Thursday's debate, Kelly said on the air that she stood by her original question and explained that her network wouldn't ban her from moderating a second time.
While the Kelly-Trump showdown didn't happen Thursday, that's not to say the two won't face off again. After all, the primaries are only just getting started, and November is still pretty far away.