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Trump and Fox News trade barbs after candidate pulls out of Republican debate

The next Republican debate will touch on a lot of important issues, but the topic on everyone’s mind going into it is once again Donald Trump. Ironically, it was the brash businessman-turned-politician’s decision not to participate that made him the biggest story of the upcoming debate. By loudly pulling out of the event and then exchanging jabs with Fox News, Trump made the news impossible to miss.

Leading up to his withdrawal, Trump had been vocal about his doubts regarding one of the three moderators, and even asked his social media followers whether or not he should go. “Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me,” he said in a video posted to his Instagram account. “She knows that. I know that. Everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?”

Related: Online petition forces U.K. Parliament to debate banning Donald Trump from country

Fox News didn’t seem very impressed with Trump’s poll. In a statement to Mediaite, the channel got snarky, saying, “We 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 — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

The statement may have been the tipping point for Trump, because his decision to withdraw followed. His campaign announced in a statement Tuesday that he would not join his fellow Republican presidential hopefuls in the televised debate; instead, the mogul planned to host an event in Iowa in which he’d raise money for veterans and wounded warriors.

Naturally, Trump didn’t leave it at that, though. He fired back — multiple times — after Fox News’ dig.  He posted a stern message on Twitter, calling the statement “a disgrace” and wondering who would say “something so nasty & [sic] dumb.”

Ironically, he had written a pretty nasty tweet of his own earlier in the day, calling Kelly “a lightweight reporter” and saying that he “refuse[d] to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct,” but certainly seeming to imply that he’d like to use the descriptor.

For all that Trump has been trading barbs with Fox News, he still plans to appear on The O’Reilly Factor Wednesday evening. We’re still half-expecting him to show up at the debate on Thursday as well, but regardless of whether he participates, he’s definitely keeping his name out there.