Republican Debate Without Trump Draws Second-Lowest Audience

GOP Rivals Have Fun at No-Show Donald Trump’s Expense

If Fox News held a debate without Donald Trump, would people still watch? Now we know the answer.

An estimated 11 million to 13 million people tuned in for the Trump-less event Thursday, the second-lowest-rated debate of the presidential primary season, CNN reported, citing preliminary Nielsen data. By comparison, the Republican debate on Fox in August, which included Trump and nine other presidential hopefuls, attracted 24 million viewers.

Trump sat out the discussion Thursday and staged his own event in Iowa after Fox ignored his demand to remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator. Trump and Kelly have feuded since Fox’s August debate, when she asked him about his disparaging comments about women.

Trump had tweeted that the debate would be a “total disaster” without him, predicting low ratings and lower advertising rates.

Fox News, owned by 21st Century Fox Inc., didn’t respond to a request for comment. Nielsen plans to issue a statement on the ratings later Friday.

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