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Trump tells Union Leader: No endorsement, no show

July 28. 2015 8:51PM

Donald Trump is still not participating in next Monday’s Voters First Presidential Forum in New Hampshire, but now he says it is because he thinks he is unlikely to get the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement and, besides, he thinks there are too many candidates for one event.

Given a deadline of last Friday, Trump’s office had said he would not participate because of a Union Leader editorial critical of him for questioning U.S. Sen. John McCain’s Vietnam war record. At an Iowa event, Trump had disputed that McCain was a “war hero,” saying, “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

But Tuesday, in a letter to Union Leader Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid, Trump wrote: “...knowing you as I do, I feel it is unlikely I will be getting the endorsement from you and the Union Leader. I have made a great fortune based on instinct and that, unfortunately, is my view. Therefore, and for other reasons including the fact that I feel there are too many people onstage to have a proper forum, I will not be attending.”

There will be 14 Republican presidential candidates at the forum, which is being co-sponsored by news media in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, home of the first three GOP primaries and caucuses.

It will be broadcast nationally by C-SPAN and locally and regionally by a wide variety of TV and radio outlets.

The forum came about after Fox News, which will host the first GOP-sanctioned debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland, said it would limit participation to 10 candidates based solely on national polls. Fox personalities were quoted as saying that they, rather than voters in the early states, would serve as a national primary and “winnow the field.”

Fox and CNN, which holds the second debate and is using similar criteria, have been criticized and have been asked by Republicans in the three early states to change the criteria and format so that more candidates can be included in debates that take place a full six months before the first votes are cast.

The Voters First Forum used broader criteria in determining its list, including active campaign organizations with local offices and staff.

“The forum’s format will allow voters in the three states to see the wider field on a level playing field, which is important at this juncture,” McQuaid said.

Questions will be posed by moderator Jack Heath, host of WGIR’s “New Hampshire Today” radio program. But the questions will be based in large part from topics suggested by voters.

Candidates who have committed to participate include: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham.

Tickets for the event, to be held at St. Anselm College, were offered through a public lottery, which ended Monday. Winners will be notified by e-mail by this Friday.

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