DES MOINES, Iowa — The Republican presidential debate at the Iowa Events Center on Thursday night began with Sen. Ted Cruz taking shots at Donald Trump.
Cruz’s comments came after Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly asked him to address “the elephant not in the room,” the fact Trump chose not to participate. The senator mocked Trump’s propensity for throwing insults at rivals and critics.
“I’m a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly,” Cruz quipped before turning to former neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
“Ben, you’re a terrible surgeon,” Cruz said. “Now that we’ve got the Donald Trump portion out of the way, I want to thank everyone here for showing the men and women of Iowa the respect to show up and make the case to the people of this state and the people of the country why each of us believe we would make the best commander in chief.”
Trump, who is currently the frontrunner in polls of the Republican primary field, scheduled a last-minute event at Drake University in Des Moines at the same time as the debate. His decision to boycott the event came after reports surfaced that he had asked Fox News to remove Kelly as a moderator. In an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar prior to the debate, however, he said that he never made such a request. Trump has accused Kelly of being biased against him and criticized her handling of an earlier debate.