Just moments after Donald Trump declared he would boycott the last Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – sensing an opening – began attacking Trump for abandoning Iowan voters and being 'so afraid' of Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly.
"I think any candidate for president owes it to the voters to go and stand in front of them, to answer the hard questions," Cruz said in an interview with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity on Tuesday night. "I mean, it's a matter of basic respect to the men and women of Iowa."
Trump declared he is boycotting the Fox News debate because of moderator anchor Megyn Kelly who he called a "third rate reporter" who had been “toying” with him.
Trump has been upset about Kelly since she asked him about his disparaging remarks about women in a debate she co-hosted last year.
Cruz, who is running in a deadlocked race with Trump in Iowa, called out the front-runner Republican candidate for being afraid of Kelly.
"I think it's really remarkable that Donald Trump thinks so little of the men and women of Iowa that he is willing to skip the debate altogether," Cruz said. "He doesn't think he should have any questions on his record. And it's really quite astonishing that Donald is apparently so afraid of Megyn Kelly."
On Tuesday night's 'Megyn Kelly Tonight,' Kelly shot back at Trump 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."
Cruz, meanwhile, went on to challenge Trump to a one-on-one debate before the Iowa caucus on Monday accusing Trump of hiding from Iowa voters. He said he would debate Trump in an Iowa town hall one on one format answering questions from Iowans who are set to vote in the caucus.
"If he doesn't accept, he's telling the men and women of Iowa he's not willing to defend his record," Cruz said about Trump. "He can't defend the record. He's admitting that he cannot stand the scrutiny, and that means he's not up to the job of being commander-in-chief. Anyone scared of Megyn Kelly is not going to be able to stand up to Hillary Clinton or Vladimir Putin. And we need a strong, principled, conservative president."
Contains some reporting by the Associated Press.