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Donald Trump claims his rivals want to join veterans' fundraiser he will be hosting instead of attending Republican debate

Donald Trump: 'Wow, two candidates called last night and said they want to go to my event tonight at Drake University'

Hardeep Matharu
Thursday 28 January 2016 16:54 GMT
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The Republican presidential frontrunner has said he will not be taking part in the final GOP tonight before caucuses are held in Iowa on Monday
The Republican presidential frontrunner has said he will not be taking part in the final GOP tonight before caucuses are held in Iowa on Monday (Getty Images)

Donald Trump has claimed that two of his Republican rivals have asked to join him at a fundraising event that the billionaire will be hosting at the same time as the Fox News GOP debate which he is boycotting tonight.

The party's frontrunner announced yesterday that he would not be attending the final debate for his party’s presidential candidate hopefuls before caucuses are held in Iowa on Monday.

In a statement, the New York entrepreneur’s campaign team said that he did not want to “play games” with Fox News and that the broadcaster believes it can “toy” with Mr Trump.

The announcement followed a press conference in which the 69-year-old criticised Fox News’ debate moderator Megyn Kelly, with whom he clashed in a GOP debate last August.

Instead, Mr Trump said he will be staging a fundraising event to help military veterans during tonight’s debate – something he has claimed other Republican candidates want to join him at.

Earlier today, he tweeted: “Wow, two candidates called last night and said they want to go to my event tonight at Drake University.”

Mr Trump did not elaborate on his claim and there have been no statements made by the other Republican candidates with regards to any plans for them to join the controversial figure.

While some supporters have welcomed the businessman’s decision to hold a charity event instead of attending the debate, his competitor Ted Cruz has mocked Mr Trump, calling him a “fragile soul”.

“It’s not that he’s afraid of me,” Mr Cruz told an audience in West Des Moines yesterday.

“He’s afraid of you. He doesn’t want to answer questions from the men and women of Iowa about how his record doesn’t match what he’s selling.”

While another rival Jeb Bush added: “I’ve got a $20 bet he’ll show up. Because it’s in his interests.”

David Kochel, a senior adviser to Mr Bush, said Mr Trump’s absence from the debate would give the other Republican candidates a chance to get their messages across without having to compete with Mr Trump’s provocative rhetoric.

He said: “It gives us more time at the microphone and more time to talk about answers to substantive issues that Iowa votes are demanding right now.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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