Ted Cruz offered a direct challenge to rival Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying that he had booked a venue in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday night for the two Republican frontrunners to engage in a one-on-one, “mano y mano” debate.
Deriding Trump as “gentle Donald” for his decision to pull out of Thursday’s scheduled presidential debate on Fox News, Cruz announced that had already reserved a hall at Western Iowa Tech community college for a debate with the New York real estate mogul. He initially challenged Trump to a debate in an interview Tuesday with radio host Mark Levin.
Trump, who is holding an unspecified benefit for veterans at the same time as the debate in Des Moines, had long hesitated to participate in the Fox News debate. He had long complained about his dissatisfaction with tough questioning from anchor Megyn Kelly in the first Republican presidential debate in August 2015. Her questioning led Trump to say that he thought “there was blood coming out of her wherever”, a comment widely believed to refer to menstruation. However, the final straw was when Fox News sent out what Trump called a “wise guy press release” mocking him.
For the one-on-one debate, Cruz suggested Levin as a moderator if “gentle Donald cannot handle Megyn Kelly”. He also suggested Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh as potential moderators if Trump found Levin unacceptable, as well an option with no moderator and the two simply answering questions from the audience.
The event marked the continued shift in tone from Cruz, who has launched blistering attacks on Trump in recent weeks. Although the two had long been friendly and the senator from Texas openly bragged about his refusal to attack Trump, he has since attacked the real estate mogul’s “New York values” after Trump questioned whether the Canadian-born Cruz’s birth made him constitutionally ineligible to be president.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether he would accept Cruz’s challenge.
Copyright © 2016 theguardian.com. All rights reserved.