Sen. Ted Cruz is challenging Donald Trump to a one-on-one debate, saying he and the billionaire can go at it “mano a mano” if they can’t agree on a moderator.
Trump’s campaign announced Tuesday that he’s skipping the last scheduled debate with leading Republican candidates before the Iowa caucuses. Trump has criticized host Fox News and scheduled moderator Megyn Kelly in particular for what he calls “playing games.”
At a campaign stop Tuesday in Fairfield, Iowa, Cruz accused Trump of being afraid of mean questions from Kelly and said skipping the debate was tantamount to refusing to be interviewed for a job.
Riffing off Trump’s famous rejoinder from The Apprentice, Cruz said that if someone didn’t show up for an interview Trump would say, “You’re fired.”
Cruz and Trump are running a tight race heading into Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Cruz said Trump owes it to Iowa voters to debate.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders are slated to have their first extended meeting since the Vermont senator’s presidential bid upended the Democratic race to replace Obama.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the two will meet Wednesday in the Oval Office. Earnest says the meeting will be informal, with no set agenda.
Sanders has met with Obama at the White House on several occasions over the years, but the men aren’t close. Sanders’ main rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has dropped by the White House several times since leaving the Cabinet.
Sanders’ visit comes as Obama has opened up about his thoughts on the race. In an interview with Politico published Monday, Obama showered praised on Clinton but was less effusive in discussing Sanders. He suggested the Vermont senator was a one-issue candidate and dismissed any comparisons to his own campaign against Clinton eight years ago.
Sanders said Tuesday that the prospect of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg considering an independent presidential campaign “speaks volumes about the state of American politics” and notes that if a race included Bloomberg, Trump and himself, “two of the three candidates would be multibillionaires.”
Sanders said in an interview with the AP that the notion that he must win Iowa’s caucuses against Clinton is “mythology” and appeared to lower expectations about the race.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich had New Hampshire to himself Tuesday, as many of his rivals were campaigning in Iowa prior to the caucuses.
He kicked off a day in the first primary state at a town hall in a cozy tavern in New Boston. Kasich pitched himself as a Republican who is willing to tackle problems such as climate change and race relations. Kasich said he can work across the aisle to get things done.
Kasich is banking his presidential hopes on New Hampshire, all but ignoring Iowa as he seeks to become the establishment alternative to Trump in New Hampshire’s Feb. 9 primary. At his events, he touts recent endorsements by the Boston Globe and Concord Monitor.