TIME 2016 Election

Trump Wants CNN to Donate GOP Debate Proceeds to Veterans

MANDEL NGAN—AFP/Getty Images Real estate tycoon Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (MANDEL NGAN--AFP/Getty Images)

He first suggested the idea to TIME

Donald Trump is demanding CNN donate the advertising revenue from the next GOP debate to a charity that benefits veterans.

The presidential hopeful wrote a letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker Tuesday in which he noted that ad rates for the GOP debate were being sold at a nearly 4,000% increase (from $5,000 to $200,000) and said that the “tremendous increase in viewer interest and advertising is due 100% to ‘Donald J. Trump.'”

He reminded Zucker that the GOP debate on FOX had one of the largest viewerships in cable TV history, and anticipated that the CNN debate would bring in an even larger audience. And he asked Zucker to put all that money to good use.

“You should view the second debate broadcast as a public service and not accept the massive profits that this airing will generate,” Trump wrote, according to a copy of the letter tweeted by Bloomberg Politics. “I believe that all profits from this broadcast should go to various veterans groups, a list of which I will send you in the near future. The veterans of our country, our finest people, have been treated horribly by our government and its ‘all talk and no action’ politicians.'”

“In fact, some would say they are treated like third class citizens—even worse, in many cases, than illegal immigrants,” Trump wrote. Trump has devoted much of his campaign to railing against undocumented immigrants, repeatedly proposing to deport all undocumented immigrants and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Read now: TIME Cover: The Donald Has Landed

The idea of leveraging his immense appeal with debate audiences into some kind of charity donation was first proposed when Trump spoke to TIME for the cover story in late August. At that time, he suggested that he might threaten not to show up unless the ad revenue was donated to charity. Here’s what he said then:

“Here’s my question: So if I go to CNN and I say, Look, you’re going to have a massive audience, and if I say to them, I want $10 million for charity, nothing for myself, what happens? I’m not showing up, right?” he says. It’s a rhetorical question, the wheels of entrepreneurship are turning, the joy of being Trump dancing on his face. “I’m not showing up unless you give $10 million to cancer, to this, to that. You pick 10 great charities, $1 million per.” He’s not sure just how far the rules of democracy can bend, how big his ambitions can grow. “If I’m in it, they’ll get this crazy audience, and they’re going to make a fortune since they’re selling commercials every time we take a break. Would you ever say to them, would you ever say, I want $10 million for AIDS research, for cancer, for this type or not, or is it too cute?”

Zucker has not yet responded to Trump’s request.

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