Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File,” National Review editor Rich Lowry rolled out his magazine’s effort to challenge Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s bid to be the eventual Republican nominee.

Lowry told host Megyn Kelly, who has had her own dust-ups with Trump, that their intent was to rally conservatives against Trump because they saw him as susceptible to special interests…

Kelly asked what the “theme” of the effort included, to which Lowry declared “ideas” and “principles.”

“There are a couple,” he replied. “Number one, if you truly are conservative, you believe in ideas and in principles. It’s not just attitudes. It’s not just who you dislike. It’s limited government. It’s the Constitution. It’s liberty. Those are the things that truly make this country special. And they are basically afterthoughts to Donald Trump. He almost never talks about them. And if you’re truly a conservative, you have a consistent record. We all change our minds on a few things every now and then when the facts change. But he has been on the other side on big hot-button defining issues like abortion, gun control, taxes and even immigration.”

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A Fox News spokesperson told The Daily Caller, “Megyn Kelly has no conflict of interest. Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday’s debate, for which we thank him.”

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Conflicts of interest generally arise from money or established loyalties. If Kelly or her husband, for instance, were a consultant in the campaigns of Trump’s competitors, then she’d have a conflict of interest. Or if she’d spent 20 years as an aide to Jeb Bush, then she’d have a conflict of interest. If she’d contributed thousands and thousands of dollars to the Chris Christie campaign, then she’d have a conflict of interest. No such scenario exists

Kelly incurs no conflict of interest, however, by serving as a target of Trump’s Twitter rants and other criticisms. Were that the bar for ethical disqualification, most media outlets would have to stop publishing this afternoon…

As for the “bias” complaint in the tweet — pound sand, Trump. Sure, we’ve argued in this space before that Kelly brings attitude and opinion onto what she has claimed to be a straight-news show. And at the same time, she has proven — including at the Aug. 6 debate — that she’s a shrewd and fair political moderator. Trump complained after that debate that he’d been presented with tougher questions than the other contenders. That’s 100 percent true, not to mention inevitable: Questions about unacceptable and egregious behavior, after all, tend to sound tough.

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In August, a feud broke out between Trump and Kelly after the first GOP primary debate. Trump said it was “unprofessional” for Kelly to ask him to address disparaging remarks that he has made about women. Things took a turn for the worse after Trump seemed to suggest in a subsequent CNN interview that Kelly was menstruating during the debate.

The two never really patched things up, and since then, Trump has used his Twitter account to attack Kelly and her show…

Kelly, who plays a large role in Fox’s continued ratings success, saw her second-highest rated month ever in November, the report added.

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Katrina Pierson, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, attempted to downplay the candidate’s tweet on Sunday, telling CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that Trump isn’t planning on skipping the Des Moines debate, despite Kelly’s involvement.

“There’s no love lost between Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump after that first debate. That’s been a very publicized disagreement there,” Pierson told host Brian Stelter. “But I think it’s going to be fine.”

A Fox spokesperson confirmed to The Huffington Post that Kelly will indeed co-moderate Thursday’s debate.

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There’s a part of me that has a lively scientific interest in seeing just what would happen if Donald Trump followed through on his quasi-threat to schedule a town hall opposite the Thursday debate. It’d be interesting to get some data showing just how much of the interest in the GOP debates is driven by Trump; after all, he doesn’t actually talk for two hours straight at any of the regular debates (not that any of them do, of course). Taking a purely detached view of the whole affair, having Trump in the race is certainly allowing us to test all the old assumptions on how to run a campaign…

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Kelly maintains that she is not biased against Trump, a position Fox supports. “I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism,” she said of Trump’s criticism following the August debate.

In a recent Vanity Fair interview, Kelly said Trump tried to curry favor with her before he announced his candidacy by sending her signed press clippings. “But I can’t be wooed,” she said. “I was never going to love him, and I was never going to hate him.”

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A spokesperson for Fox News shot back at Trump in a statement to The Hill.

“Sooner or later Donald Trump, even if he’s president, is going to have to learn that he doesn’t get to pick the journalists — we’re very surprised he’s willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly,” the spokesperson said.

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