FAIRFIELD, Iowa — Ted Cruz challenged Donald Trump on Tuesday night to a one-on-one debate “anytime between now and the Iowa caucus.”
Less than an hour after Trump’s campaign told reporters the front-runner will skip Thursday’s GOP debate, Cruz, looking to have his moment with Trump, suggested to a crowd in Fairfield, Iowa, that “Donald is a fragile soul” and is “scared to face Megyn Kelly” — the FOX News moderator that riled Trump in the first Republican debate back in August.
“We’ll do 90 minutes, Lincoln-Douglas, mano-a-mano, Donald and me,” Cruz said. “He can lay out his vision for this country, and I can lay out my vision for this country in front of the men and women of Iowa.”
Cruz, who has shied away from non-issue attacks on Trump, suggested Trump’s “hair might stand on end” if Kelly “asked him mean questions.”
The Texas senator also questioned why Trump would be “afraid” to debate him head-to-head.
“He’s been saying this past week he thinks I’m stupid,” Cruz slyly said on conservative Mark Levin’s radio program also on Tuesday night. “He should do very well with someone who is so stupid — away from moderators he’s so afraid of.”
Cruz furthered his attack on Trump’s decision to bow out of the debate, asking Levin how Trump would handle friction with other world leaders.
“I promise you Putin is a lot scarier than Megyn Kelly,” Cruz said. “I’d like to hear Donald explain to the American people and to the people of Iowa how he is prepared to be commander-in-chief if he’s terrified by a television host.”
Trump has just recently faced increased scrutiny by the other candidates over his past positions, which used to skew quite liberal.
The Cruz campaign also released a TV ad on Monday beginning to hit Trump for the view changes.
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.