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Donald Trump has announced that he would not participate in the FoxNews moderated debate tonight, allegedly because Megyn Kelly was meanie-pants to him. Frankly, this smells more like an excuse to avoid a debate where he would be in the bull's-eye for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush; a debate he simply can't win. The ads by Ted Cruz's campaign and by his super PACs clearly mark the lines of attack Cruz, in particular, would use: his support for abortion, his fetish for eminent domain, his friendship with the Clintons and other prominent Democrats. Trump could also expect that his main lines of attack against Cruz (the loan Cruz took from Goldman Sachs secured by his own assets, and the "no one likes him" claim) would be redirected to point at the billions of dollars Trump currently owes major banks and the large number of people who have said they don't like Trump.

In an effort to control some of the narrative, Trump is holding his own rally to allegedly raise money for veterans. Given Trump's record of parsimony in charitable giving, his lying about what happens to money at events he headlines, and the controversy associated with one of the groups Trump is allegedly raising money for, this might not be an unalloyed success. One of the groups led by leftwing shill and would-be political player, Paul Rieckhoff, is allegedly refusing to accept any money from Trump (I suspect, however, that resistance would evaporate should a check actually arrive).

Ted Cruz started the troll yesterday, challenging Trump to a one-on-one debate. Trump tried to ignore it, agreeing to a one-on-one debate at some future time if they are the only two candidates left. Now two Ted Cruz super PACs have upped the ante:

Super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz say they will donate $1.5 million to charities committed to helping veterans if rival Donald Trump agrees to a one-on-one debate with Cruz.

“Not only would this be a heck of a debate, but it would also be a terrific opportunity to generate millions of dollars for the veterans,” the Keep the Promise I and II PACs said in a joint statement Wednesday night.

At the same time, Cruz upped the trolling level to, as Leon says, "ninja."

“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 y mano?” Cruz said Wednesday at a rally in West Des Moines.

“And I’m going to propose a venue, Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City,” he added. “We already have it reserved — 8:00 Saturday night, a two-hour, one-on-one debate.”

The challenge comes in response to Trump’s plan to skip Thursday's GOP presidential debate because of his feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who is co-moderating the debate.

Cruz maintained that Trump is skipping the debate because is “very, very scared” of Kelly, referring to the real estate mogul several times as “gentle Donald.”

“And, you know, Donald is a fragile soul,” he said. “She might ask a mean question, and who knows what could happen — his hair could stand on end.”

As for the moderator of the one-on-one debate, Cruz suggested a number of prominent conservative radio hosts, including Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

He also threw out the possibility of a town hall in which Iowans ask questions of the candidates.

“And if gentle Donald is frightened by Mark and Sean and Rush, then we’ll have no moderator whatsoever. A town hall of Iowans,” he said.

“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,” he added.

It is difficult to see how you could poke more fun at Trump's inflated ego than that. Adding the sweetener of $1.5 million donated to veterans charities if Trump makes an appearance it is hard to see how he allegedly wins the narrative, as Rush claimed yesterday, by refusing the challenge. And you can probably bet that the venue that Cruz has reserved for the debate will be put to good use if Trump doesn't show up.