Donald Trump snubbed a ‘live’ televised presidential debate, allowing Foyle MLA Gary Middleton the chance to share the spotlight on what is expected to be a huge US ratings winner.
The DUP MLA was given a chance to shine after the controversial and hugely divisive US presidential hopeful ignored a Fox TV debate in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Trump, whose comments on refugees and migrants have caused widespread shock and disgust around the world, went ahead instead with a fundraising event for his campaign in Iowa, where he hopes to win the caucus on Monday.
Political experts believe that if he wins Iowa on Monday, Trump will almost certainly cruise to victory in the New Hampshire primaries eight days later.
Gary Middleton was in Arkansas after being invited to take part in a US ‘young leaders’ programme, and found himself filling in some of the TV space left by Trump’s decision to ignore the prime time presidential debate.
On his facebook page, Mr Middleton modestly posted a photograph of himself being interviewd in the Fox TV studio, writing: “Another busy day in Little Rock, Arkansas. Meetings with the Mayor, Governor and medical experts. As the Presidential election heats up, Donald Trump failed to appear at the Fox TV debate so Mr Swann and I took the slot.”
Defying both Fox and political conventions, Donald Trump followed through on his commitment to skip the GOP debate.
Appearing at his own fundraising event in Des Moines, Iowa, Trump said that he would not reverse his decision to skip the debate, despite what he said was a last minute plea by Fox to join it.
On Fox News, Trump’s absence was addressed at the outset of the debate.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, a co-moderator at the debate began by asking Ted Cruz to address “the elephant not in the room tonight.”
Unrepentant Trump suggested his own fundraiser was just as big and event saying: “Look at all the cameras. It’s like the Academy Awards.”
Mr Middleton was selected to take part in a young leaders program through the US Consulate.
The International Visitor Leadership Program “connects current and emerging foreign leaders with their American counterparts through short-term visits to the United States”.
Just over 10 years ago as a young 15 year old boy Mr Middletion was in the USA with the Ulster Project.