Trump hints two candidates may join anti-debate event
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE hinted early Thursday that two other candidates might join him at an event he's scheduled as an alternative to Fox News’s GOP presidential debate.

“Wow, two candidates called last night and said they want to go to my event tonight at Drake University,” he tweeted without naming the candidates.

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The Republican presidential front-runner also predicted his absence would hurt Fox News’s ratings for the next contest.

“Fox debate advertising rates falling like a rock!” he wrote late Wednesday. "Tune into my special event for the veterans at 9 p.m. EST!"

“On Greta, 87 percent of the people watching said they would not watch the debate if I’m not in it,” Trump added, referencing Fox anchor Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record." "Wow, what an honor!”

Trump says he won't appear at Thursday evening's debate in Des Moines, Iowa, because Fox News mistreated his campaign. He resents the network’s coverage of him, pointing to a critical press release and accusing debate moderator Megyn Kelly of asking biased questions.

The outspoken billionaire announced late Wednesday that he has scheduled another event during the Fox News broadcast.

The Donald J. Trump Special Event to Benefit Veterans Organizations is  scheduled to take place at Drake University, just three miles from the GOP debate’s main stage.

Trump’s campaign has described it as a fundraiser for multiple military veterans’ organizations, naming the Wounded Warriors Project as one possibility.

The outspoken billionaire’s decision has sparked widespread derision from other Republican White House hopefuls. Super-PACs aligned with Ted Cruz, Trump’s closest rival for the GOP nomination, have pledged $1.5 million to charity if Trump accepts a one-on-one debate with the Texas senator.

Fox News on Thursday refuted Trump's assessment of his impact on the debate's fortunes.

"The debate is completely sold out," a network spokesmen said in a statement to The Hill.
 
"No rates have changed and there are no advertisers who have backed out.  Prices don't change once orders have been placed."
 
This story was updated at 3:22 p.m.