Trump pulls out of final GOP debate, as Sanders to meet with Obama

Trump plans on skipping the debate as he blasted Fox News for ‘playing games’ and including anchor Megyn Kelly as a moderator

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Donald Trump declared on Tuesday he would boycott the last Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses, leading Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to challenge him to a one-on-one debate. Adding intrigue to the Democratic race, the White House said President Barack Obama would host Bernie Sanders for an Oval Office meeting.

The dual developments created new ripples of uncertainty six days before voting in the presidential race begins. Both parties were bracing for nail-biting caucuses that will determine which of their two leading candidates will carry the whiff of victory into New Hampshire and beyond.

Trump raised the prospect of skipping the debate as he blasted Fox News Channel for “playing games” and including anchor Megyn Kelly as a debate moderator. Trump’s campaign later said he definitely will not participate.

“I said bye bye, ok?” Trump said.

The race among Democrats was no more settled six days from the leadoff Iowa caucuses, with Sanders and Hillary Clinton locked in a close contest and details about their debate plans unclear. But the fireworks on Tuesday were on the Republican side.

Trump said he would hold his own event in Iowa during the debate to raise money for wounded veterans. He dismissed Kelly as a “third-rate reporter” who is bad at her job and had been “toying” with him — reprising a squabble that erupted after a debate Kelly co-hosted last year.
Kelly shot back on her nightly show, arguing that Trump is used to getting his way but can’t control the media. She said her network and CEO Roger Ailes had made it clear to Trump for months that they wouldn’t change their moderator line-up.

“I’ll be there,” Kelly said. “The debate will go on with or without Mr. Trump.”

Trump’s pullout came after Fox News Channel tweaked the GOP front-runner for asking his Twitter followers whether he should debate. The network, in a sarcastically worded statement, said it had learned from a “secret back channel” that the leaders of Iran and Russia planned to treat Trump unfairly if elected.

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