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Trump to boycott Republican debate as spat with Fox News blows up

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump has announced he will boycott the last Republican presidential debate before the Iowa caucus. The unorthodox move is likely to shine more attention on the frontrunner.

Days before the Iowa caucus kicks off a voting process to determine who will be nominated to head the Republican and Democratic presidential ticket, a simmering feud between Trump and Fox News Channel erupted with the GOP frontrunner pulling out of a final debate.

Trump said he would boycott the Fox News debate scheduled for Thursday because the conservative news channel had

made a "pathetic attempt" to raise ratings and was "toying" with him.

Trump has been in an open feud with television host and debate moderator Megyn Kelly, who the real estate mogul has accused of being unfair and a "third-rate reporter."

Kelly and Fox News have lashed back, telling Trump he can't dictate the journalists who cover him.

Arguing Fox News' ratings had skyrocketed and

the channel was "making tens of millions of dollars on debates,"

Trump said he would hold a separate debate in Iowa to raise money for veterans and wounded soldiers.

Trump's stunt came after Fox News issued a sarcastic statement after the Republican frontrunner asked his Twitter followers if he should boycott the debate. The statement said the news channel had learned from a "secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president." The channel also said "a nefarious" source had said Trump would replace the cabinet with his Twitter followers.

His move has now opened into a full out war of words, with Fox News' senior political analyst Brit Hume likening Trump to a crying baby.

Conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is polling second after Trump, appeared caught off guard by the sensationalist move to withdraw from the debate, telling a crowd in Iowa he would face Trump "mano a mano" anytime.

Either way, Trump's unorthodox move is likely to give him

more attention ahead

of the Iowa caucus, a strategy that has so far served him well in the polls.

cw/jil (AP)

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