Donald Trump skipping next Republican debate

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) --   Donald Trump's campaign manager says Trump is skipping the next Republican presidential debate. 

The Republican candidates are set to square off in the Fox News debate Thursday night, their last debate before Monday's Iowa caucuses.

Trump previously had said he may not show up. But campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said during a Tuesday evening news conference in Marshalltown, Iowa, that the GOP front-runner "will not be participating in the Fox News debate Thursday."

Trump has criticized Fox News for "playing games" and for including anchor Megyn Kelly as a debate moderator. He says Kelly is a third-rate reporter who is bad at her job and shouldn't be allowed to participate.

Trump says Fox will make a fortune off the debate and that he asked the network to donate to wounded veterans groups.

Instead of the debate, Trump says he will probably hold his own event in Iowa for wounded veterans.

Fox News Channel says Donald Trump is still welcome to participate in the Republican presidential debate, but will not be allowed to "dictate the moderators or the questions."

Sen. Ted Cruz is challenging Donald Trump to a one-on-one debate, saying he and the billionaire can go at it "mano a mano" if they can't agree on a moderator.

At a campaign stop Tuesday in Fairfield, Iowa, Cruz accused Trump of being afraid of mean questions from Kelly and said skipping the debate was tantamount to refusing to be interviewed for a job.