Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's plan to skip tonight's Republican debate turned into a bidding war between Trump, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina on Wednesday night, with big donations to veterans' groups as the bargaining chip.
Two Super PACs supporting Cruz, Keep the Promise I and II, offered to donate $1.5 million to veterans' groups if Trump would meet Cruz for a one-on-one debate before the caucuses:
At about the same time, Cruz sent a letter to Trump inviting him to a debate in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday night and suggesting conservative talk show hosts Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, or Rush Limbaugh serve as moderators.
Then Fiorina decided to, in her words, "up the ante," offering $1.5 million to veterans' charities if Trump joined the Iowa City debate, or $2 million to debate him at his alternate event tonight:
Upping the ante, I'm free tomorrow at 8pm, @realDonaldTrump. My campaign will give $2mm to veterans' cause to debate at Drake U. (2/2)— Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) January 28, 2016
Veterans' groups wanted none of it, characterizing the candidates' offers as a cynical political ploy. The founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American said they'd decline the donation if offered: