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FOX59 in Iowa: GOP candidates prepare for debate without front-runner Donald Trump

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DES MOINES, Iowa (Jan. 28, 2016) – Hours before the GOP candidates were scheduled to appear at the final GOP debate in Des Moines, both FOX News and the candidates prepared for a debate without front-runner Donald Trump.

Just miles away at Drake University, Trump staffers spent the day setting up for his newly-scheduled event to go head-to-head with Thursday night’s debate.

“I was not treated well by FOX,” Trump said Tuesday night on The O’Reilly Factor. “They came out with this ridiculous PR statement. It was like drawn up by a child and it was a taunt, and I said how much of this do I take?”

All afternoon, delegates and an influx of national media descended on the Iowa Events Center, where the debate will be held.

The candidates were able to walk-through the debate hall, just four days away from caucus day, knowing the platform is critical for any 11th hour momentum, with Trump promising to be a no-show.

“I think he’s afraid of facing the issues that people are finding out about him,” Rick Tyler said in an interview with FOX 59, a top adviser to Ted Cruz. “Well it puts us center stage so we’ll have more time. We won't get hit by gratuitous attacks by Donald Trump, but I think it's a disappointment not only to us because we'd like Donald Trump on the stage so we can make the comparison, but this is a debate Iowa has wanted for a long time."

The main debate begins at 9 p.m. eastern on FOX News. Candidates faring lower in the polls will debate at 7 p.m.