Donald Trump at CPAC in 2011. He did not attend the final debate before the Iowa caucuses. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr Courtesy of Creative Commons)
Donald Trump at CPAC in 2011. He did not attend the final debate before the Iowa caucuses. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Donald Trump won another Republican debate on Thursday, and he wasn't even on the stage.

After publicly announcing he would not take part in the Fox News Google Debate, moderated by Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace, Trump announced he was simultaneously holding a benefit in Des Moines, Iowa for veterans ahead of Monday's caucus.

"Look at all the cameras. This is like the Academy Awards," Trump told his audience inside a Drake University auditorium Thursday evening. (Overflow watched outside in 30 degree weather, according to ABC reporter Alana Abramson.)

Across town at the seventh GOP debate, Kelly brought Trump up in the first question to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz addressing "the elephant not in the room." At the beginning of the debate, talk centered around Trump and his absence before delving into the issues.



This is a completely different and more substantive debate with Trump off the stage. #GOPDebate

— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) January 29, 2016
“@GmoneyRainmaker: I hope @CNN has enough bandwidth tonight because not many will be watching @FoxNews. Watching Trump tonight #GOPDebate” — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2016

Following the evening's live events, social media and search results show Trump once again overshadowed his competition.

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Tonight @realDonaldTrump did what bullies do & avoided the confrontation after saying this.#GOPDebate #trumpforvets https://t.co/HyOwVWLG1D

— Dwain Minor (@MusingsInDMinor) January 29, 2016

Reach Reporter Hannah Vega here; follow her on Twitter here.