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Fox accuses Trump of wanting $5 million in exchange for debate participation

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Presidential candiate Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Jan. 28, 2016. (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

In Donald Trump’s absence from the Republican presidential debate on Thursday, his rivals chided the billionaire front-runner for skipping the event and holding a competing fund-raiser for veterans across town in Des Moines, Iowa.

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes had three phone conversations with Trump on the day of the debate, according to a network spokesperson. But the two failed to resolve a simmering feud that broke into the open this week after Trump demanded that the network remove anchor Megyn Kelly as a debate moderator.

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Trump at one point, according to the network, offered to appear at the debate if Fox contributed $5 million to his charities. Fox said it refused.

Trump filled to capacity a 700-seat hall at Drake University, where he told the crowd he raised more than $5 million for a veterans’ group in a single day. His campaign did not say which group was getting the funds.

At the Fox News-sponsored debate, Trump’s rivals mocked his brash style and criticized his decision to sit out the debate.

“I’m a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly, and Ben, you’re a terrible surgeon,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said to rival Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, as the debate opened, saying he had now “gotten the Donald Trump portion of the program out of the way.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has been a frequent target of Trump’s attacks, said he “kind of missed Donald Trump,” adding: “He was such a teddy bear to me.”

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Trump was able to garner a tremendous amount of attention on Thursday without having to share much of the spotlight. Cable news networks CNN and MSNBC provided extensive coverage of his event.

“I didn’t want to be here, to be honest, I wanted to be about five minutes away” at the debate, he told the crowd.

Trump, who has accused Fox News, and particularly Kelly, of treating him unfairly, said: “When you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights – whether we like it or not.”

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Trump’s move to skip the debate could be a risky gamble ahead of Monday’s Iowa caucuses, which kick off the state-by-state race to pick the nominees in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

But his support in opinion polls, much of it from blue-collar men, has not wavered for months despite him insulting Mexican immigrants, threatening to deny Muslims entry to the United States and clashing with Republican establishment figures like Senator John McCain.

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Trump received almost twice as many mentions on social media during his competing veterans event than he received during the first hour of the last Republican debate on Jan. 14, according to Zoomph, a social media analytics firm.

But his rivals took turns reminding debate viewers about Trump’s spat with Kelly.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave the stage no matter what you ask me,” said Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

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Cruz, after a series of questions, said: “If you ask me one more mean question, I may have to leave the stage.”

(Reporting by John Whitesides; Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson and James Oliphant in Iowa, Doina Chiacu and Valerie Volcovici in Washington, Richard Valdmanis in Boston and Emily Flitter in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell, Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis)


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2020 Election

Former RNC chair and Montana governor spurns his party to endorse Joe Biden

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Former Republican Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, who also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee for two years, has broken with his party and is endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The Helena Independent Record reports that Racicot made his endorsement on Tuesday evening in an interview with Yellowstone Public Radio.

"Even as a Republican, I will not be supporting Donald Trump for president, and I will not be voting for him," the former Montana governor said before making an argument in favor of Biden's moral character.

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2020 Election

No one with ‘an IQ over 80’ should not see Trump as a ‘sociopath’ on the debate stage: Conservative editor

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On Tuesday, writing for The Bulwark, conservative editor Jonathan Last tore into President Donald Trump's performance at the first presidential debate on Tuesday evening in Cleveland.

"Honestly: I cannot understand how anyone with an IQ over 80 could have watched this disgrace and not come away understanding that the president of the United States is a sociopath," wrote Last. "But I’ll try to put myself in the mind of voters and tell you what I saw."

"He was a doughy, orange honey-badger, yelling, shouting, cajoling, needling and — this is the important part — never shutting up," wrote Last. "If you are a fan of the Trump lifestyle brand — if you have a Trump flag on your boat and wear a MAGA hat because you love pissing off the brown girl with the nose ring at Starbucks — then I suspect that you thought this was the greatest performance by any debater in the history of debates ... On the other hand, it’s not clear to me that Trump’s act was effective with undecided voters."

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‘People have ears’: MSNBC host stunned as Trump adviser insists president denounced white supremacists

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MSNBC's Hallie Jackson was stunned by White House adviser Peter Navarro's insistence that President Donald Trump had forcefully denounced white supremacists.

Debate moderator Chris Wallace asked the president to denounce white supremacists, and Joe Biden suggested the right-wing Proud Boys -- but Trump demurred and instead urged the extremist group to "stand back and stand by," which they swiftly incorporated into their logo.

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