Trump knocks CNBC hours before GOP debate it will host

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BOULDER, Colo. — Real estate magnate and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took a preemptive swipe at the media ahead of Wednesday night’s GOP debate, declaring on his Twitter account that he expects the event on CNBC will be “very unfair.”

Trump’s latest blast came as he slipped behind fellow GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson in Iowa voter surveys and in at least one national poll.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon with no previous political experience, languished near the bottom of the packed Republican field as recently as August, while Trump led in most surveys throughout the summer months and into September.

Since then, Carson has surged to a sizable lead in Iowa over the nine other candidates who will be participating in tonight’s debate, including Trump.

Real Clear Politics’ latest polling averages show Carson with support from about 29 percent of voters compared with Trump’s almost 21 percent. Carson’s climb in the polls prompted the bombastic Trump to take notice.

Asked on Tuesday by MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle, the former Boston Globe columnist, about his “biggest” opponent in the race, Trump said he plans to “go after” Carson.

He also said he had figured former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would be his chief rival by this time in the campaign.

“I’m surprised at Ben Carson, but I go after Ben Carson,” Trump said. Trump added that he sees “a lot of problems” with Carson’s previous stances on popular issues but did not show his hand as to which particular issues he had in mind. Trump said Carson’s growing popularity will be “like a cleansing action” and claimed that “a lot of things will come out now and we’ll see how he holds up to the scrutiny.”

Tonight’s debate, according to CNBC, will focus primarily on domestic economic issues like job growth, taxes and the health of the American economy.

Those issues may play to the strengths of the New York real estate developer and former reality television star, whose TV career began on the cable network’s parent, NBC. But using his Twitter feed Wednesday, Trump ripped CNBC’s reporting of his poll numbers, which may affect the tone on the debate stage later in the day.

Like its parent, CNBC has historically served as a platform for Trump. In 2012, the casino developer starred in a weekly segment called “Trump Tuesdays” that aired on the morning “Squawk Box” show. The host, Becky Quick, will be one of three moderators on the debate stage Wednesday.

Trump’s first reality game show, “The Apprentice,” debuted on NBC in 2004. It was also on CNBC where Trump announced his first venture into presidential politics. On Nov. 18, 1999, he told talk-show host Chris Matthews that he was prepared to spend up to $100 million of his own money to run as a Reform Party candidate.

Joining Trump, Bush and Carson on stage at 8 p.m. Eastern time will be Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, the senators from Kentucky and Florida, respectively.

An undercard debate is set to take place two hours earlier featuring the four candidates with the lowest standings in voter surveys, including Lindsay Graham, the senator from South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator.