Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum will attend Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer chairman of Wisconsin GOP party signals he will comply with Jan. 6 committee subpoena Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon tells Russia to stand down Billionaire GOP donor maxed out to Manchin following his Build Back Better opposition MORE's pro-veterans event on Thursday at the same time as Fox News's prime-time presidential debate.
Spokesmen for both candidates confirmed to The Hill that the Republican presidential will still participate in Thursday's undercard GOP debate, but will head to the Trump event after.
The undercard debate begins at 7 p.m. Eastern, two hours before Trump's event is slated to start three miles away. That gives candidates who failed to reach the main stage the freedom to participate, while anyone slated for the main stage would have to skip the debate altogether to attend.
Huckabee, who previously hosted a show on Fix, said that he didn't speak with Trump directly about the plans, but that his staff had expressed interest in conversation with the Trump campaign. He added that he doesn't believe the decision to join Trump at the event sends a negative message to those candidates taking part in the main-stage debate.
"It's to honor the troops, it's not an endorsement of Donald Trump's candidacy. I'm still running for president, we've got the caucuses Monday night, but I'm delighted to join with Donald Trump in an effort to salute the veterans," Huckabee said Thursday on CNN's "Wolf."
"I'm not invited to the main stage, I would have loved to have been on that stage ... if they aren't sitting out in the audience watching me, I don't feel any compulsion that I have to be there for that debate.