SALT LAKE CITY — Will Donald Trump appear at the Republican Party's presidential debate in Salt Lake City on March 21, the day before Utah voters caucus to choose their preferred nominee?
"Who knows? The Trump campaign kind of thrives on the idea of being different," Utah Republican National Committeewoman Enid Mickelsen said. "They may decide it's in their best interest not to come."
But Utah GOP Chairman James Evans said he spoke with Trump campaign officials in New York City and was told "there's no plans" for the billionaire business mogul and reality TV star to skip the Salt Lake debate.
"The confirmation I got was there is no plan for him not to attend," Evans said. "I said there is this 'will he, won’t he' speculation in Salt Lake City. I was told that is odd for Salt Lake City because there is no plan for him to not to attend."
Evans said the speculation about Trump was actually about the next GOP presidential debate, in Detroit on Thursday. He said he was told Trump will attend that debate even though it's hosted by Fox News.
Trump abruptly announced he was boycotting a Fox News/Google debate in Des Moines, Iowa, in January after feuding with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly over how she handled questioning in an earlier debate.
Trump, who had reportedly asked the network to drop Kelly and donate commercial revenues to veterans, held a competing event in Des Moines the same night to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Mickelsen said a Trump no-show "would be very disappointing to the voters of Utah." Both Republicans and Democrats are participating March 22 in the state's first presidential preference caucuses.
There are few details yet about the Salt Lake City debate. Mickelsen said the national party has narrowed its site selection to a few locations and are still trying to decide. They have also not announced a media partner.
However, a source told the Deseret News that Fox News is expected to host the Salt Lake City debate, and that both the Salt Palace and the University of Utah's Huntsman Center are under consideration.