Republican candidates — except Donald Trump — face off for the final time before the Iowa caucuses
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Latest on developments from the 2016 Republican race for president, less than a week out from the Iowa caucuses (all times local):
Donald Trump’s campaign says the rally he held instead of participating in Thursday’s Republican debate raised more than $6 million for veterans.
In a statement after the rally, Trump’s campaign added that if Fox News “wanted to join in that effort and make a contribution Mr. Trump would have welcomed that.”
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Fox had earlier issued a statement saying Trump had offered to appear at the debate “upon the condition” that Fox News contribute $5 million to his charities, which Fox said was not possible.
Trump told reporters before the rally that he had fielded multiple calls from Fox representatives and CEO Roger Ailes during the day.
Fox’s statement said Ailes had three brief conversations with Trump on Thursday about possibly appearing at the debate, but “there were not multiple calls placed by Ailes to Trump.”
The final Republican debate before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses has concluded.
Ben Carson is reading the Preamble to the Constitution as his closing statement.
Jeb Bush is earnestly making the case for support in Iowa, where he has all but abandoned campaigning.
He is battling a cold after months of campaigning as he asks the debate audience for their support, calling himself “a conservative leader” with “plans to fix the mess in Washington, D.C.”
Bush is asking for support in the Feb. 1 caucuses but is pinning his campaign’s survival on a stronger finish in the New Hampshire primary eight days later.
Still, Bush says, “I will make you proud as our party’s nominee.”
Marco Rubio says he will “unite this party and defeat Hillary Clinton” and makes a reference to the Bible in his closing statement.
He says the Bible “commands us to let our light shine on the world” and says the U.S. has been shining its light on the world for more than 200 years.
He says, however, that light is “dimming after seven years of Barack Obama.”
He adds, if elected, “America’s light will shine again.” Reciting his campaign theme, he says “the 21st century will be a new American century.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says the central question of the Iowa caucuses is whom voters trust.
He says in his closing statement that voters need to decide whom they trust to kill terrorists, defend the Constitution, repeal President Obama’s health care law, secure the borders and “defend life.”
Cruz is asking voters to examine the records of the candidates and “pray on it.”
Gov. Chris Christie is reflecting on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Christie says when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, his wife was only a couple blocks away. It was hours before he heard from her and he was forced to contemplate whether she had died and he was a single parent.
With that in mind, Christie said he has focused on keeping the United States safe, noting “terrorism in this country scares everyone.”
Given his experience as a prosecutor and governor, Christie says no president will keep the country safer than he will.
9: 50 p.m.
An Afghanistan war veteran who lost his leg to sniper fire was among several invited guests who joined Donald Trump on stage at a rally for veterans.
Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding spoke powerfully about his experiences in the military and about supporting veterans when they come home. Walding and other veterans later presented Trump with a ring representing the number of veterans who commit suicide after returning home.
Trump ended the rally by praising veterans, saying, “You veterans are incredible people, brave beyond comprehension.”
Trump’s team organized the rally after deciding to boycott the final GOP debate before Monday’s Iowa caucuses amid an ongoing feud with host Fox News.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is hounded by questions about his opposition to ethanol mandates at almost every stop he makes in Iowa.
And Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in Des Moines was no different.
Ethanol made from corn is huge business in Iowa, and pro-ethanol forces have been spending millions against Cruz. Longtime Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican and ethanol supporter, has called for Cruz’s defeat.
With Branstad in the audience, Cruz was asked to defend his call to phase out a mandate that all fuel contain a certain percentage of ethanol.
Cruz says his tax plan would remove all mandates and subsidies, including those for ethanol. He says, “Washington shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.”
But Ben Carson says it would be “unfair to withdraw the rug” and says promises were made to people who are counting on the renewable fuel standard being in place.
Jeb Bush was asked by a YouTube user about how to increase tolerance amid frequent discriminatory comments on social media. He responded by attacking Donald Trump.
Bush noted that given the nation’s concerns about terrorism, Trump proposed banning all Muslims from entering the country. He said “that’s not a sign of strength.”
Bush says the U.S. needs to focus on defeating Islamic State militants, not attacking Muslims who aren’t a threat.
He says Republicans should offer a broader, more unifying message.
Rand Paul is defending Democrat Hillary Clinton from those who would blame her for sticking with her husband former President Bill Clinton because of his infidelity and subsequent impeachment.
He says, “I don’t think she’s responsible for his behavior.”
Paul goes on to shame the former president in unsparing detail. He says if any CEO did what Clinton did “with a 21-year-old intern,” he would be fired and “shunned in their community.”
He says Hillary Clinton “can’t be a champion of women’s rights” with her husband’s legacy hanging around her neck.
Chris Christie doesn’t directly respond when asked if he would send U.S. troops to Libya to take out the Islamic State, turning the tables to trash Democrat Hillary Clinton.
He says Libya is another example why Clinton “cannot be commander-in-chief” because she failed to answer questions posed in a previous Democratic debate about her responsibility for Benghazi.
Republicans have hammered Clinton for her role in dealing with the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Christie says Clinton “refuses to be held accountable for anything that goes wrong.”
He says the U.S. must work with allies to defeat Islamic State militants in Libya, but does not say whether he would dispatch U.S. troops.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are tangling over the nuclear deal with Iran.
Rubio says he would cancel the deal on his first day in the Oval Office, if elected.
Kasich is pushing for tougher enforcement of the deal, saying the U.S. needs to work with European allies on it. “If they violate it, we do need to move against them,” he says.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he opposes abortion, but whether to ban it should be left up to states, not the federal government.
Paul said during Thursday’s presidential debate that if the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion were overturned, he thinks states should decide what to do. Paul says the more states that make abortion illegal, the better.
Paul says on his campaign website that giving states the right to ban abortion would “save hundreds of thousands of lives.”
Paul was asked about abortion during a segment of the debate focused on social issues important to many evangelical Christians who vote in the Iowa caucuses.
9: 19 p.m.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is dismissing the scandal that rocked his political ambitions after his 2013 re-election.
He says “Bridgegate,” as it became known, will not hurt him because he “knew nothing” of the politically motivated move to slow bridge traffic from New Jersey into New York.
The snarl was a traffic nightmare for thousands and was found to be politically motivated, and carried out by Christie aides.
“I knew nothing,” he says, quickly adding that he fired the people responsible. “And that’s what you expect from a leader.”
He went on to compare his record to Democrat Hillary Clinton, vowing, “She will never get within 10 miles of the White House.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush cast himself as the toughest candidate to take on Hillary Clinton, even as he trails in polls.
“I’m running hard and I believe I’ll be the Republican nominee,” he says, arguing that his “record of accomplishment” in his home state would help him win over voters.
His longtime political ally turned rival, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, says he’s also eager to challenge Clinton.
“Hillary doesn’t want to run against me but I can’t wait to run against her,” he says.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says neither leading Democratic candidate has what it takes to be president.
Rubio said during Thursday’s Republican presidential debate that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders “is a good candidate for president — of Sweden.” Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is running on a platform of offering a free college tuition and health care for all.
Rubio also says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president. Rubio says she should be disqualified because she stored classified information on her private email server and says she lied to families of people who killed in the Benghazi attacks.
Clinton says the information has been retroactively classified. She casts the controversy as a Republican-led political effort to discredit her ahead of the election.
A trio of Republicans are responding to a Mexican immigrant woman who asked how immigrants can feel welcomed given the harsh rhetoric over immigration during the GOP campaign.
Dulce Candy, an Iraq war veteran and entrepreneur who came to this country from Mexico as a child, says “some of the comments in this campaign make us question our place in this country.” She appeared via YouTube.
She specifically asked if the U.S. economy would suffer if immigrant entrepreneurs don’t feel welcomed.
Ben Carson steered away from answering Candy’s question, saying the U.S. needs to worry about terrorists entering the country.
Carson says we need to be “intelligent” on reforming immigration laws and review visa and refugee policies.
Jeb Bush applauded Candy and says she “deserves our respect” and “we should be a welcoming nation.”
Rubio also chimed in, saying “we will always celebrate legal immigrants,” but the legal immigration system is outdated.
Video clips of past statements Ted Cruz has made about immigration led to a heated exchange.
The clips showed Cruz claiming he would support immigration reform legislation if some of his amendments had been approved. But at the debate, Cruz said his intention was to ensure people in the country illegally couldn’t gain legal status.
Rand Paul responded that Cruz claims that only he is “perfect” on immigration issues.
Marco Rubio jumped into the exchange, calling Cruz’s comment about his superiority on immigration “the lie that Ted’s campaign is built upon.”
Given the importance of immigration to Republicans, Rubio said Cruz is trying to “out-Trump Trump” on immigration, referring to Donald Trump, who has called for the removal of all people in the country illegally.
Cruz said Rubio is charming and smooth but that when both men ran for the U.S. Senate, they each promised to fight amnesty. Cruz said only he was true to his word.
The two Florida Republicans are squaring off over immigration policy.
Sen. Marco Rubio says he never supported a pathway to citizenship for people in the country illegally. Former Gov. Jeb Bush says Rubio did.
Rubio was challenged to defend his past statements as a candidate for Senate where he opposed “blanket amnesty,” but then went on to lead a bipartisan Senate group that would have allowed people to seek citizenship after a series of other requirements.
Bush says that once Rubio was in the Senate, he came to Bush to seek his support for legislation that would allow a pathway to citizenship.
“Then he cut and run because it wasn’t popular with conservatives,” Bush added.
Accusations of flip-flopping ensued.
Bush supports a process that would allow people in the U.S. to seek legal status, not citizenship. Rubio says that’s a change from Bush’s 2013 book, “Immigration Wars.”
Rubio says Bush “used to support” a path to citizenship.
Bush responds, “So did you, Marco. You shouldn’t cut and run.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is defending his push for a statewide program to cap carbon emissions and curb climate change.
As the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Rubio oversaw the passage of legislation establishing a cap-and-trade program — a proposal deeply unpopular with the Republican primary base.
Rubio says he was trying to modify the program, which was being pushed by then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.
“I have never supported cap-and-trade and I never thought it was good idea,” he says. “I do not believe we have to destroy our economy in order to protect our environment.”
Rubio is promising that should he be elected, “there will never be any cap-and-trade in the United States.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich says the key to responding to a crisis like the Flint, Michigan, water contamination is to “be on top of it right away.”
Kasich was asked during Thursday’s Republican debate how he would have reacted to lead contamination crisis in Flint differently than Gov. Rick Snyder, who is facing heat for failing to do more.
Kasich says, “Every single engine of government has to move when you see a crisis like that.”
Kasich says during his tenure as governor he’s had to react to emergencies like school shootings and storms and when those occur “you’ve got to go the extra mile.” He says: “People have to be alert. They have to be alert to problems and when you see a problem you must act quickly to get on top of it.”
Jeb Bush talks about self-determination, one-way tickets to Orlando and “structural reforms” when asked if America should bail out Puerto Rico.
The U.S. territory is in crisis over a $72 billion debt its governor says cannot be repaid.
Bush didn’t address the debt crisis directly. Instead, he says Puerto Ricans have a right to self-determination, an issue debated for decades on the island.
He says many Puerto Ricans are fleeing the economic crisis with “one-way tickets to Orlando.”
He says Puerto Rico must deal with its structural problems to solve its economic problems.
Rand Paul is addressing a question about the need to use improved technology in law enforcement by focusing instead on the need for criminal justice reform.
Asked by a YouTube viewer about why the cameras in smartphones are better than police body cameras, Paul says he has supported legislation that promotes police body cameras.
However, Paul went on to discuss the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting death of an unarmed black man in 2014 led to riots.
Paul says part of the problem was that much of the city’s budget was funded by civil fines. He argues that “people are being fined to death.”
Paul says the U.S. needs to complete criminal justice reform.
Jeb Bush is spinning a question about policing charity organizations for veterans into his plans to police the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He says “the first duty of the next president of the United States is to fix the mess” at the VA.
He says he would make sure to fire those responsible for the VA’s “sheer incompetence.”
Bush says veterans have died for failing to get proper treatment at VA hospitals while only three VA employees have been fired.
Two of Donald Trump’s presidential rivals have taken the stage at a rally Trump is hosting to benefit veterans as he skips the Republican debate.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum attended the rally after participating in the early undercard debate for candidates whose poll numbers were too low to make it on the main stage.
Santorum joked that he didn’t want his picture taken with the Trump campaign sign. He quipped that he’s “supporting another candidate for president,” but said he was happy to come out to support veterans.
Huckabee had earlier stressed his appearance should not be seen as an endorsement of Trump. He told the audience gathered at Drake University that he, Santorum and Trump may be presidential race competitors but said “tonight we are colleagues” in supporting veterans.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich says the United States can’t be the policeman of the world.
Instead, Kasich says in Thursday’s Republican debate that the U.S. must work with other countries in the Arab world and in Europe to confront Islamic State militants. He says the only solution is to build a coalition similar to the one that came together in the first Gulf War. Kasich says destroying the Islamic State will have to involve both an air war and a ground war.
Kasich says the way to bring together a winning coalition is to convince other countries that terrorism poses an “existential threat” to all of them. Kasich says he believes it can be done because he saw former President Ronald Reagan and others do it.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is casting himself as the most experienced at combating domestic terrorism.
He’s saying law enforcement can combat threats at home without racial profiling, by using law enforcement tools.
Christie says, “That’s the difference between someone who knows how to do this and someone who hasn’t done this before.”
Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are locking horns over how far the government can go in anticipating domestic terrorism.
Rubio is defending his call for monitoring mosques. He calls the threat from the Islamic State and its attempts to recruit people in the United States “unprecedented.”
He says, “They are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo.”
But Paul calls that a bad idea, saying, “If you want to defend the country, it begins with border security.”
Fox News Channel says Donald Trump sought a $5 million contribution to his charities in order to appear in Thursday night’s debate, which the network rejected.
Fox News says Chairman Roger Ailes, in conversations with Trump, “acknowledged his concerns” about a statement the network had made in the days leading up to the debate.
The network and the presidential contender had been feuding since Trump demanded Megyn Kelly be removed as a debate moderator.
Trump was holding a competing event in Iowa.
Donald Trump has opened a rally for veterans he’s holding in competition with the final GOP presidential debate before Monday’s Iowa caucuses.
Trump says he’d prefer to be at the debate, but had no choice but not to attend.
Trump announced earlier this week that he would boycott Thursday’s debate following a mocking statement from host Fox News.
Trump told the crowd gathered at his rally that “when you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights,” adding that “we have to stick up for our country if we’re being mistreated.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is sidestepping a question that noted that he’s expressed doubt that either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio is prepared to be president.
Instead, Christie argues that the person who isn’t qualified to be president is Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Christie says that during a recent Democratic forum, Clinton answered a question about her use of a private email server and her statement indicated she was motivated by convenience.
Christie says he’s the best candidate to face off against Clinton in a general election.
Ted Cruz is promising to build up the U.S. military with money freed up by tax and regulatory cuts from a throttled American economy.
But he’s defending votes for budget bills that have cut U.S. military spending.
Marco Rubio regularly makes the argument that Cruz cannot be trusted to destroy the threat of the Islamic State group, which he calls “the most dangerous jihadist group in the history of mankind.”
Cruz says he “will apologize to nobody” for his stance versus the Islamic State, and promises to “utterly and completely destroy” the group.
Ben Carson says he’s proud to be the only Republican presidential candidate without political experience.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, says even though he hasn’t made political choices, he’s made plenty of life-and-death decisions during his career as a doctor.
“I don’t think you need to be a politician to tell the truth,” he said during Thursday night’s Republican debate.
Carson says the key is to take new approaches to solve problems that have left many American terrified.
John Kasich says he has a record as a member of Congress and as governor of Ohio to understand Washington and bring everyone together to fix America’s biggest problems.
Kasich says he’s been “a reformer all my career.”
He says “we cannot fix things in this country — Social Security, the border, balancing the budget, getting wages to grow faster — unless we lead as conservatives.”
He adds that Republicans must work with Democrats.
He says “we have to come together as a country and we have to stop all the divisions.”
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is turning a question about his father into attacks on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Paul was asked in Thursday’s Republican debate whether it was a mistake not to embrace the politics of his father, former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
After saying he loves and respects his father, Paul then pivoted to blast Cruz for not showing up to make a vote in the Senate on auditing the Federal Reserve. Cruz says he missed it in order to make a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, but he looks forward to signing a bill to audit the Fed as president.
Paul also says Cruz’s position on the collection of bulk phone records will not win him the “liberty vote.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says a president can both stand on principle and get things done.
Asked in Thursday night’s debate whether some Republican voters value candidates who put principles ahead of everything, Christie says he stands by his principles but also can accomplish his goals.
“I’ve been accountable for six years in New Jersey,” Christie says.
Christie says Americans are frustrated with politics and simply want to elect a president who is effective.
Jeb Bush is dismissing the notion that his struggling campaign should quit, saying it’s just getting started.
And he’s poking fun at Donald Trump for not being on the debate stage in Des Moines.
The former Florida governor had begun in recent weeks to attack the billionaire as a faux conservative, while Trump takes pleasure in poking at Bush as “low-energy” while campaigning.
Bush says Trump is “a little teddy bear” and mocks his rivals for seeking the “witness protection program” instead of attacking Trump also.
Having called himself his own man for months, Bush is now agreeing that he is part of the Republican establishment.
He says the election is not about his pedigree, but “about people who are really hurting.”
Marco Rubio says “this campaign is not about Donald Trump,” but about making sure Hillary Clinton doesn’t win in November.
He says Clinton believes President Barack Obama would make a strong Supreme Court justice appointee.
“The guy who systematically and habitually violates the Constitution of the Supreme Court? I don’t think so,” Rubio says
Ted Cruz is leading off the latest GOP presidential debate by channeling the insult-prone Donald Trump. He says: “I’m a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly. And Ben, you’re a terrible surgeon.”
Cruz then thanked the other candidates for showing Iowa voters the respect he says they are due by showing up to make their case about why they should president. Trump refused to participate in Thursday’s debate.
Cruz noted that he will have visited all 99 of Iowa’s counties by Monday, the day of the caucuses. If he’s elected president, he says Iowans should “keep an eye on the tarmac because I will be back.” He says in 2017 Iowa “will not be flyover country, it will be fly-to country.”
Donald Trump says his foundation has raised $5 million for veterans ahead of a rally he’d holding as he boycotts the final GOP debate before Monday’s Iowa caucuses.
In an interview with reporters on his plane before his Thursday night event at Drake University, Trump said he’s putting up $1 million of his own money that many of his wealthy friends are giving large-dollar contributions as well.
Angry over an escalating feud with debate host Fox News, Trump is hosting the rally at the same time as the debate being held just a couple miles away.
Earlier Thursday, Trump launched a new website for collecting donations: donaldtrumpforvets.com. Contributions to the site will go to The Donald J. Trump Foundation, Trump’s nonprofit charitable organization.
The page says: “100 percent of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio avoids attacking his Republican presidential rivals in his latest political television ad, and instead, is opting to go after Democrat Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.
Rubio says in the ad that the election is about defeating Clinton and about “saving what makes America unique.”
The senator also says in the ad that Obama is cause for American frustrations. The 30-second ad began airing in Iowa on Thursday.
Donald Trump will be joined by two of his rivals at the event he’s throwing in place of attending Thursday’s GOP debate.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will be joining Trump at the veterans benefit at Drake University.
Aides to both candidates say they will be traveling to the Trump event after participating in the undercard debate for candidates whose poll numbers aren’t high enough to qualify for the main stage.
Huckabee says on CNN the move should not be seen as an endorsement of Trump’s candidacy.
He says he didn’t have anything else to do at the time and is “delighted to join with Donald Trump in an effort to salute veterans.”
Vice President Joe Biden says Democrats may have “been given a gift from the Lord” in the form of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Biden is riffing on the 2016 race as he addresses House Democrats at their annual retreat in Baltimore. Biden says between Cruz and Trump, “I don’t know who to root for more.”
Many Democrats are hoping that if Republicans nominate an unconventional candidate like Cruz or Trump, Democrats will have an easier time defeating their nominee in the general election.
Biden says he’s confident Democrats can win back the Senate in 2016. He says his party can make “great inroads” in winning back House seats and potentially even capture the majority “when nobody expects it.”
Biden opted against running for president in 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has launched a new website for collecting donations to veterans ahead of his event on Thursday evening.
The link, which Trump posted on Twitter, includes the seal of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, and a form for contributions.
It says that 100 percent of donations will go directly to veterans’ needs.
Trump has chosen to skip Thursday night’s final GOP debate before Monday’s Iowa caucuses.
He is holding a dueling event on the Drake University campus at the same time.
Iowa fast-food workers calling for $15-an-hour wages say they’ll stage a day of demonstrations ahead of the Republican presidential debate.
Workers from restaurants including McDonald’s walked off the job for the day Thursday.
Activists say the daylong series of protests will culminate with a march to the Iowa Events Center and rally at the debate site, where they hope to draw at least 1,000 low-wage workers.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is continuing his attacks on Fox News host and debate moderator Megyn Kelly.
The GOP front-runner posted seductive photos of her from a 2010 GQ Magazine shoot on his official Twitter page and referred to her as “the bimbo that’s asking presidential questions.”
Trump’s Fox feud dates back to the first primary debate, when Kelly took him to task over derogatory statements he’d made about women.
Trump announced this week that he would boycott Thursday’s Fox debate following a mocking Fox News statement that suggested Trump would replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers and that the leaders of Iran and Russia “both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly” if he becomes president.
He accused Kelly of being “a lightweight” and says he will instead host a fundraiser for wounded veterans instead of attending the debate.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson received a standing ovation from Iowa lawmakers during a visit to the state Capitol.
Carson spent time in the House chamber Thursday morning. He sat alongside Rep. Rob Taylor, a Republican from West Des Moines who is co-chair of Carson’s campaign in Iowa.
Carson did not make public remarks but received a standing ovation from lawmakers in the chamber when Taylor introduced him. He later met privately with Republican lawmakers.
Carson is one of several presidential candidates traveling around Iowa ahead of the first-in-the-nation caucuses on Monday. He will participate in a Fox News GOP debate Thursday night in Des Moines.
A new $1 million political advertisement says that Donald Trump can’t be trusted, even on his signature issue of getting tough on illegal immigrants.
The ad seeks to undermine the frequent Republican presidential poll leader’s tough talk about building a wall on the Mexican border.
It includes comments he has made about giving “amnesty” to some who are in the country illegally. And it goes on to assert that his real estate development company relies on illegal immigrants for cheap labor, pointing out a $1 million fine the Trump Organization paid for employing illegal immigrants in the construction of the Trump Tower in New York.
Representatives of Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The commercial, which is set to begin airing Friday in Iowa and also will soon debut in New Hampshire, is sponsored by Our Principles, an anti-Trump super political action committee led by Katie Packer, a former aide to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
It looks like Republican presidential candidates will be debating without their front-runner. Donald Trump hopes to starve his rivals of attention at a critical juncture in the campaign by holding a competing event of his own.
Trump’s abrupt decision to boycott the final debate before Monday’s Iowa caucuses has added a new layer of uncertainty to a race that has defied political convention. The real estate mogul cites “unfair” treatment from debate host Fox News as his reason for skipping the contest Thursday night in favor of a rally nearby.
Other GOP candidates see Trump’s move as a welcome opportunity to emerge from the long shadow the billionaire has cast over the race, while also hoping it might damage his standing with Iowa voters.