Donald Trump to moderate GOP debate. But what if nobody shows up?
Billionaire and reality show host Donald Trump is scheduled to moderate a Republican presidential debate. But only Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have agreed to participate.
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But with just Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum agreeing to participate and everybody else otherwise engaged, it’s sounding more and more like that televised “debate” between Mr. Gingrich and Herman Cain some time back (which was more like the meeting of a mutual-admiration society).
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The latest to RSVP in the negative is Michele Bachmann, who’d already met four times with Trump and would be happy to have his endorsement. Rick Perry says he respects Trump “very much,” but he’s just going to be really, really busy with “traditional retail campaigning in the days and weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus.”
Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul have dismissed the notion of answering Trump’s questions as if they were competitors on “The Apprentice.” (It may be worth noting here that Trump is a big fan of professional wrestling and has hosted WrestleMania events at Trump Plaza. I apologize if that brings to mind the image of Gingrich and Mr. Santorum in tights.)
Republican officials and conservatives have been waving red flags over the thought that Trump might appear to have some legitimate role in the GOP’s presidential nomination process. For one thing, he was in and out and then apparently back in the race for a time, and he now teases with the notion that he might run as an independent.
"I think that having a successful businessman serving as a moderator has a lot of volume," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said Thursday, trying to sound as polite as possible. "But the issue here is whether the moderator should still be a person who's still batting around the idea of running as an independent. I think that should give some of these candidates some concern."
Indeed it has. But whether or not that’s the issue for them, or they just don’t want to take part in a clown show with the unpredictable billionaire businessman and reality show host is unclear.