Republicans vow to debate without Trump

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Republican presidential candidates will take to the debate stage to slug it out among themselves, not minding the absence of Donald Trump, the GOP front runner. Trump’s absence presents a particular challenge to Ted Cruz. The Texas senator in the last debate traded barbs with the business mogul, although neither gained the upper hand. Ever since, he has been sharpening his attacks and appeared eager to use his polished debate skills to win round two. Trump’s absence however, denies him that opportunity. Cruz is likely to try to paint his opponent, in absentia, as either a coward afraid of a fight or an intemperate personality given to rash decisions.

Trump says debate will be a flop

Donald Trump said the debate “will be a total disaster,” “Low ratings with advertisers and advertising rates dropping like a rock. I hate to see this.” A Fox News spokesperson rejected Trump’s statement, saying “The debate is completely sold out. No rates have changed and there are no advertisers who have backed out.” Friction between the businessman and television host Megyn Kelly dates back to the first Republican debate, when Ms Kelly challenged Mr Trump over derogatory comments he had previously made about women.

Trump hosts parallel event

Meanwhile, Donald Trump will take his spotlight to a different venue, where he can employ his unconventional rhetorical skills without challenge. The billionaire businessman will hold a competing rally, which could draw attention from the main event just days before the important Iowa caucuses. According to the BBC, Trump decided to withdraw from the debate after Fox News refused to drop host Megyn Kelly, whom Mr Trump accused of bias. Voters in Iowa on Monday are due to pick their presidential nominee and will be looking up to the candidates to deliver their campaign promises. The Iowa caucus will be the first real test of the election campaign, and the beginning of a series of state-by-state contests to chose delegates for both Republicans and Democrats.