GOP's efforts to lure Donald Trump to the debate have gone from desperate to pathetic

No word on if the campaigns of Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina will still donate to the troops even if Trump's a no show

By Sophia Tesfaye
Published January 28, 2016 2:42PM (EST)

While Bill O'Reilly was begging Donald Trump to reverse his decision and make an apperance at Thursday night's Fox News debate, other republican presidential campaigns were also jumping up and down to command the frontrunner's attention, "upping the ante" by desperately offering millions in donations to veterans groups in exchange for a chance to debate.

"Would you do me a favor?" the usually overbearing O'Reilly gently asked Trump during a bizarre spectacle of an interview Wednesday. "You owe me. Because I bought you so many, so many vanilla milkshakes. I bought you so many vanilla milkshakes, you owe me."

"Well, even though you and I had an agreement that you wouldn't ask me that, which we did. I will therefore forget that you asked me that, but it's up to Fox. It's not up to me," Trump cut in, again slapping down the network's invite to rejoin the debate lineup.

While O'Reilly's attempts to coax the stubborn billionaire seem (for now) to have failed, the campaign's of Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz apparently think gimmicky public pledges to donate to veterans groups will do the trick.

Instead of attending the Fox News debate, Trump has scheduled a (campaign) rally to benefit veterans groups at Drake University in Iowa, three miles away from the Fox News debate stage.

While the prospects of a Trump-less debate stage surely frighten Fox News chief Roger Ailes, it appears as though Fiorina is even more desperate to attract a gleam off Trump's limelight on Thursday:

Of course, Fiorina is piggybacking off rival Cruz's challenge to Trump to go "mano-a-mano" and his super PACs' offer of $1.5 million to veterans charities in exchange.

"We have the venue. We have the time. All we're missing is the candidate," Cruz told an Iowa audience Wednesday night, proposing a Saturday night showdown. Earlier this week, Cruz suggested right-wing radio host Mark Levin as a suitable debate moderator:

Neither campaigns have indicated wether they still plan on making the millions in donations to veterans groups in the event they don't score a date with the Donald.

Trump: I Received Unfair Question During Debate

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Aol_on Carly Fiorina Fox News Gop Civil War Republican Debates Ted Cruz Video