The feud between the Fox anchor and the leading Republican overshadowed the entire debate – which she began by calling Trump ‘the elephant not in the room – but it was her off-camera gaffe, revealed afterwards byTed Cruz that spoke volumes.
As Kelly interviewed Texas senator later in the evening, he told her, ‘Well, you know, you were joking just before we went on air that it was sort of like Voldermort, he who must not be named.’
Kelly did not deny the comment, smiled, and asked him if there had been a ‘pact’ not to discuss Trump among the seven GOP candidates on stage.
The morning after the debate Fox News spokesperson claimed that Cruz was wrong – and that Kelly had simply said ‘he who shall not be named’.
The spokesperson declined to answer whether Kelly knew that it was a reference to Voldemort, the embodiment of evil in the seven best-selling novels and the hit spin-off movies which have made the character’s nickname as famous as his real one.
‘Ted seems to infer she was saying his name, given she said that, and went ahead and said it,’ the spokesperson said.
The disclosure that Kelly referred to Trump as the embodiment of evil in the Harry Potter novels to his Republican rivals is likely to intensify the already toxic atmosphere between the GOP’s leading candidate and Fox News.
And to add to the toxicity, a smiling Cruz turned to Kelly at the end of his interview and said: ‘Nice job tonight.’
Kelly had wasted no time going after Trump on air.
In her first question of the evening, Kelly prodded Ted Cruz, who replaced Trump at the center of the stage tonight, to declare the GOP front-runner’s behavior rude to the people of Iowa.
‘Let’s address the elephant not in the room,’ she told Cruz.
‘Donald Trump has chosen not to attend this evening’s presidential debate. What message do you think that sends to the voters of Iowa?’
Across town Trump was singing a different tune, however, saying at his own event that her network apologized to him for press releases that mocking his fortitude.
Fox acknowledged the apology in a statement after the debate – but then claimed Trump demanded $5 million in the course of their conversations to show up tonight.
‘Fox has been extremely nice the last number of hours,’ he told a chuckling audience at Drake University a few miles away, in a standing-room-only auditorium where rivals Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee joined him on stage.
‘They’ve wanted me there,’ he said, explaining what he framed as a barrage of calls from the Fox News Channel. asking when he might come to the debate.
”How bout now?’ he mimed a call. ‘They called me a few minutes ago and I said, ‘Hasn’t it already started?”
Pointing to the back of the hall where the media were assembled, he needled the debate organizers: ‘We’re actually told we have more cameras than they do, by quite a bit.’
He also said he got a personal mea culpa from the network on Thursday: ‘They did apologize.’
But Trump insisted on continuing with his own competing event, where he said more than $5 million had already been raised for his personal foundation, all of which will benefit veterans groups.
‘Once this started, and it was for our vets, there was nothing I could do,’ he said, speculating about what skipping the last debate before the Iowa Caucuses might mean for his presidential aspirations.
‘Will it be a good thing? Will it be a bad thing? Will I get more votes? Will I get less votes? Who the hell knows!’ Trump mused.
‘But we raised over $5 million in one day!
‘Once this ball started rolling, we couldn’t stop it,’ he said of proposals that he come to the debate and abandon his much-publicized fundraiser.
‘Out of respect for myself, I won’t do it, because it would just be wrong.’
Fox said the conversations went down a little differently but affirmed that it tried to convince Trump to come.
Read more: Daily Mail