After Donald Trump apparently pulled out of Thursday’s Fox News Republican debate because he doesn’t like moderator Megyn Kelly, Ted Cruz — the closest thing frontrunner Trump has to competition in the race to become the party’s 2016 presidential nominee — came up with a new idea.
Cruz, who has been the subject of disparaging remarks regarding his intelligence from Donald Trump during the campaign ahead of next Monday’s Iowa caucuses, issued a direct challenge to Trump to debate him one-on-one — or as Cruz put it, “mano a mano.”
When Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly moderated the first Republican debate, Trump was offended when she challenged him to defend previous insulting remarks he had made regarding women, in which Trump referred to women as “‘fat pigs’, ‘dogs’, ‘slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals.”
On Tuesday, Cruz mocked Trump, during an Iowa campaign stop, for being “scared” of Megyn Kelly.
“Donald is a fragile soul. You know if she asks him mean questions I mean his hair might stand on end,” the Texas Republican Senator told a Fairfield, Iowa, crowd. “I want you to think how you would react if you were interviewing someone for a job and they said you know what I’m not willing to show up for the interview. And you know what? If someone did that, didn’t show up at the interview you know what you’d say? You’re fired.”
“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president,” the Fox News press release read. “A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”
Trump said the release appeared to have been “written by a child.”
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Cruz appeared on the ultra-conservative Mark Levin radio program Tuesday as well, challenging Trump to debate him face-to-face on that show, or on another conservative radio program.
“We could do it a number of ways, we could have you moderate it, Mark. We could have Sean Hannity moderate it. We could have Rush Limbaugh. But you know what if he’s afraid of Megyn Kelly, if he’s afraid of you, and afraid of Hannity, and afraid of Rush, then we could do without any moderators whatsoever,” Cruz continued. “I’m happy to go an hour-and-half mano a mano me and Donald with no moderators anytime before the Iowa caucuses.”
Trump apparently feels he has little to lose by backing out of the debate. He recently claimed at a campaign stop that his backers are so loyal to him, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Watch Trump make the remarks in the video below.
He later dismissed his “shoot somebody” remark as “joking.”
But he also clearly believes that he is the star attraction in the televised debates, taunting Fox News Tuesday, saying, “Let’s see how much money Fox is going to make on the debate without me.”
The August 6 Fox News debate, which featured the debut of Donald Trump on a political debate stage, set an all-time record for a non-sports cable TV broadcast with 24 million viewers.
Though Donald Trump and Ted Cruz appear to be running neck-and-neck in Iowa, with the statistical election prediction formula used by FiveThirtyEight.com actually favoring Cruz with a 49 percent probability of winning the Iowa caucues, to a 42 percent chance for Trump — nationally Donald Trump has a commanding lead over Ted Cruz and all the other 2016 Republican presidential candidates, with 41 percent of GOP voters now saying they back him, compared to just 19 percent for Cruz.
[Featured Photo By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]