By Alan He and Ellen Uchimiya
West Des Moines, IOWAAt a rally Wednesday, Ted Cruz renewed his proposal to Donald Trump for a separate one-on-one debate, after the billionaire candidate announced he'd skip Thursday's debate because he objects to moderator Megyn Kelly. Cruz, however, did little rhetorically to make the offer too appealing to the front-runner.
"If Donald finds Megyn so terribly frightening, I yesterday suggested an alternative. He and I are the leading candidates in this state right now, so how about the two of us in a one on one debate mano-a-mano?" Cruz told the crowd. "And I'm going to propose a venue: Western Iowa Tech, Saturday night in Sioux City -- we already have it reserved."
Then, he laid out the conditions: "Eight o'clock, Saturday night. A two-hour, one-on-one debate. Now, if gentle Donald cannot handle Megyn Kelly, how about -- for a moderator, instead -- Mark Levin? Or if he doesn't like Mark Levin, how about Sean Hannity? And if he doesn't like Sean Hannity, how about Rush Limbaugh?"
And if none of the three conservative radio hosts met with Trump's approval, he had another idea.
"[I]f gentle Donald is frightened by Mark and Sean and Rush, then we'll have no moderator whatsoever. A town hall of Iowans, and I'll tell you what, Donald, you can invite half the people and control half the tickets. We'll invite half the people and half the tickets, and each of us will alternate asking questions from the men and women of Iowa who are going to vote in the caucus on Monday night," Cruz offered.
Cruz admitted that he doesn't really expect Trump to accept the challenge.
"Because at the end of the day, it's not really that Donald is afraid of Megyn. It's not that he's afraid of Mark or Sean or Rush. It's not that he's afraid of me," Cruz explained, wrapping up his case against the billionaire. "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."
Super PACs supporting Cruz on Wednesday night urged Trump to accept the debate, offering a generous donation to veterans groups if he takes Cruz up on his challenge.
"The principal donors of the Keep the Promise I and II super PACs are offering presidential candidate Donald Trump a truly fantastic deal," a statement by the group read, "pledging to donate $1.5 million to charities committed to helping veterans if Mr. Trump agrees to debate Senator Cruz in Iowa."
And now, Carly Fiorina also wants to join the separate Trump debate. On Wednesday night, she offered the front runner $2 million for veterans' causes to join Cruz's proposed debate in Sioux City Saturday night.
While his GOP opponents are debating Thursday night, Trump plans a separate event just three miles away, at Drake University, to raise money for veterans.