After Trump pulls out, FOX News cancels Republican debate

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FOX News Cancels GOP Debate In Salt Lake City

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Republican presidential debate scheduled for next week in Utah has been canceled, host Fox News said on Wednesday, after party front-runner Donald Trump told the network he would not participate.

Trump, who has clashed with Fox News throughout his campaign, told Fox in an interview on Wednesday he would not appear at the event, scheduled for Monday, because he thought the Republicans had "had enough debates."

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Rival John Kasich said following Trump's decision that he would also skip the debate unless the front-runner changed his mind and decided to come.

Ted Cruz, the third remaining Republican candidate vying for the party's nomination for the November presidential election, criticized Trump on Twitter, calling him #DuckingDonald and urging his own supporters to tell Trump to attend.

See more from the last GOP debate:

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After Trump pulls out, FOX News cancels Republican debate
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, right and Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speak during a break in the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, answers a question as Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich , listens, during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., answers a question as CNN moderator Jake Tapper listens, during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, speaks as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, right, and Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, listen, during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks during the CNN Debate in Miami on March 10, 2016. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during the CNN Debate in Miami on March 10, 2016. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaks during the CNN Debate in Miami on March 10, 2016. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - MARCH 10: Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), are seen during the CNN, Salem Media Group, The Washington Times Republican Presidential Primary Debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. The candidates continue to campaign before the March 15th Florida primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidates, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, right, stand together before the start of the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
CORAL GABLES, FL - MARCH 10: Republican presidential candidates, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Ohio Gov. John Kasich listen to the national anthem before the CNN, Salem Media Group, The Washington Times Republican Presidential Primary Debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. The candidates continue to campaign before the March 15th Florida primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, at the start of the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
CORAL GABLES, FL - MARCH 10: Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), along with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (not seen) listen to the national anthem before the start of the CNN, Salem Media Group, The Washington Times Republican Presidential Primary Debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. The candidates continue to campaign before the March 15th Florida primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - MARCH 10: Republican presidential candidates, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are seen during the CNN, Salem Media Group, The Washington Times Republican Presidential Primary Debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. The candidates continue to campaign before the March 15th Florida primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - MARCH 10: Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Ohio Gov. John Kasich stand on stage as they arrive for the CNN, Salem Media Group, The Washington Times Republican Presidential Primary Debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. The candidates continue to campaign before the March 15th Florida primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the CNN Republican Presidential Debate March 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidates (L-R) Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich participate in the CNN Presidential Debate March 10, 2016 in Miami. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Fox News, part of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc <FOXA.O> broadcast media and entertainment company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, had announced the debate, to be held in Salt Lake City, earlier this week, its latest in the primary season.

After the cancellation, Trump posted on Twitter that he would be making a "big speech" the night of the debate, "but I wish everyone well."

The boisterous billionaire had skipped a Fox News debate in Iowa in January amid complaints that he had been mistreated by the network. He has long clashed with anchor Megyn Kelly and revived criticism of her on Tuesday, calling her on Twitter "crazy" and "unwatchable."

The Iowa debate went on as scheduled, despite Trump's decision to host a rally at the same time. But back in January, the Republican field was much larger, with Trump among eight contenders who qualified to participate in the Iowa debate, and another four qualifying for an earlier "undercard" debate.

Wednesday marks the first time either party has canceled a debate.

Trump's participation in the debates has helped networks draw record audiences to them. Two previous debates this election cycle hosted by Fox News attracted the two largest audiences for non-sports cable TV programs in history.

Some 24 million Americans tuned in to the first Republican presidential debate last August, while another in Detroit earlier this month attracted 16.9 million viewers.

In February, CBS <CBS.N> Chief Executive Les Moonves spoke candidly about the advertising money the Republican front-runner was bringing into the network.

"The money's rolling in and this is fun," Moonves said at a telecommunications conference in San Francisco, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"I've never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us," Moonves said. "Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going."

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