WASHINGTON (KTRK) --There is a lot of anticipation here in Des Moines, given the change in the debate dynamics before the Thursday night face-off.
There is much talk about the one candidate who won't appear here and the candidate from Houston who will take center stage.
For so long Donald Trump and Ted Cruz got along on the campaign trail. Then, as Cruz's numbers in Iowa challenged Trump's, the dynamics changed. The two attacked each other leading up to the debate in South Carolina earlier this month.
Most recently, after Trump dropped out of Thursday night's event for his own rally, Cruz challenged Trump to debate him one on one Saturday night in Sioux City. Trump declined saying he would debate Cruz if they were the last two standing. And he called it a publicity stunt.
As for Trump's debate boycott, Eyewitness News was in Cleveland months ago when the controversy between Trump and Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly unfolded.
"You've called women pigs, dogs, and disgusting animals," Kelly said to Trump as she posed a question about his opinions of women.
After, Trump complained about the questions.
"The questions to me were not nice," he said then. " I didn't think they were appropriate. They were not nice. And I think Megyn behaved very badly."
For weeks it continued but seemed to have died down. It erupted again leading up to tonight's debate when Trump decided to ditch it.
That move puts Cruz center stage and may give him an opportunity to narrow the slim gap between his support and Trump's in the final days before Iowans caucus on Monday night.