(CNN) - At least two Republican presidential hopefuls are declining to participate in a debate moderated by real estate mogul Donald Trump.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will both skip the debate, citing concerns about the seriousness of the event.
In a campaign statement released Saturday, Paul's campaign called the debate a distraction from the real issues of the campaign.
"The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office's history and dignity," Jesse Benton, Ron Paul's national campaign chairman, said in a statement.
He added, "Mr. Trump's participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump's participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere."
Benton cited Trump's flirtation with running for president himself as a factor in the decision not to participate in the debate.
"Mr. Trump's selection is also wildly inappropriate because of his record of toying with the serious decision of whether to compete for our nation's highest office, a decision he appeared to make frivolously," Benton said.
Reacting to the Paul campaign's comments, Trump slammed Paul as a non-electable candidate.
"As I said in the past and will reiterate again, Ron Paul has a zero chance of winning either the nomination or the Presidency," Trump said in a statement to CNN. "My poll numbers were substantially higher than any of his poll numbers, at any time, and when I decided not to run, due to the equal time provisions concerning my hit show The Apprentice, I was leading the Republican field."
Trump announced in May he would not seek the nomination.
In his statement, Trump said he was pleased to hear that Paul and Huntsman would be skipping the debate.
"Few people take Ron Paul seriously and many of his views and presentation make him a clown-like candidate," Trump said. "I am glad he and Jon Huntsman, who has inconsequential poll numbers or a chance of winning, will not be attending the debate and wasting the time of the viewers who are trying very hard to make a very important decision."
Huntsman's campaign said Friday the former Utah governor wouldn't be making an appearance at the event.
"We have declined to participate in the 'Presidential Apprentice' Debate with The Donald," Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller said in a statement. "The Republican Party deserves a serious discussion of the issues so voters can choose a leader they trust to defeat President Obama and turn our economy around."
On Friday, the conservative online publication Newsmax announced they were sponsoring the Trump-moderated debate on December 27. It will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, just days before the state holds its first-in-the-nation caucus.
Candidates for the 2012 GOP nomination have been meeting with Trump since this summer. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, businessman Herman Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have all met with "The Apprentice" host at least once. On Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he would be meeting with Trump on Monday.
Even the name of the debate 'Presidential Apprentice' Debate with The Donald," sounds like a skit from Saturday Night Live.
I worked for over 40 years before retiring, and almost all of that was spent working as a manager, NOT as a union member. Despite that, I have to bring up a point that is almost always overlooked in commentary regarding unions. No union puts a contract in place WITHOUT negotiation with management. If the union seeks concessions from management, management is under NO obligation to grant them. They are a matter for negotiation. To blame unions for bad contracts is to ignore the role of management in agreeing to the terms of the contract. Poor management is as much to blame for bad contracts as is union pressure. Local governments did not HAVE TO grant their employees lucrative pay rates and pensions, they could just as well have stood fast and held out for terms that they could have paid for. Company management could have bargained for terms that would have made their companies prosperous. Instead, they looked at the short term and took the easy way out, then turned around and tried to throw all the blame on the unions. I've been on that side of the table enough times to see that.
Suffice to say that this debate will never happen. Since it's been announced, there has been nothing but laughter and ridicule directed towards the Republican Party. As if the party was already the laughingstock of the nation. I can't imagine Newtie or Mittens agreeing to this, so it will get cancelled.
But Trump got his name in the news a bunch of times, so it's a win for him.
tHE gOp, wHAT A cIRUS!
This particular debate speaks volumes about just how far below integrity the Republican Party has sunk ... who's next to moderate a GOP debate, Glenn Beck or perhaps Rush Limpbaugh?
No...working the longest hours at the lowest cost will only drive the middle class farther down the drain. You get what you pay for. And as for Trump, he is a cartoon character with no real chops. Given the state of the Republican/Tea Party however, it doesn't surprise me a bit that they selected him to moderate that reality show. Good for Paul and Huntsman...they'll never win the Republican nomination because they make too much sense.
Newsmax and Donald Trump. And some thought that last CNN debate was a joke. It's like the RNC was being cast by Lorne Michaels.
Alaskapalin is wrong as usual . . . period. Can't see the forest for the trees. You and your republicans are among the walking dead and will soon perish, in the end you will no longer exist. It's the greed of capitalism that got america in this mess. Corporate America raped, pillaged and blunder the middle glass and left it to die. Obama in 2012.
Trump isn't a 'mogul'. He's a hustler, and not even a very good one of those.
Trump is pure parasite.
'Those who are able to produce the highest quality, working longest hours at lowest labor cost will contribute greatest to the system'
So, it's a race to the bottom for the working class. That is really what the Republican strategy is all about.
Ron Paul is right, and he has my vote.
This shows whats wrong with government. Who cares if it can be paid for? Just another irresponsible give away to buy votes. Instead of trying to find a way to pay for it, why not use the money to pay down the debt that these idiot politicians run up.
I couldn't agree with you more !
We need a change ! And a Trump , Palin , Cain ticket would bring that change. A three way administration would make America the admiration of the free world !
Trump / Palin / Cain 2012
Strength / Love / Freedom
Trump is very appropriate for GOP debates. Trump is a joke, and so are most of the GOP candidates.
Watching the GOP implode as it's besieged by clowns like Cain and Trump is starting to be more than a little disturbing.
At least there are 2 republican candidates who are smart enough to have nothing to do with Trump. For some reason all the other idiots seem to think they have to meet with Trump to get his blessing. Donald Trump needs to understand that most people don't care what he thinks and the news media should stop covering anything he says.
Except for Bachmann and Perry, who are both jokes themselves, I can't believe Romney and Gingrich are participating in this. They are risking their lead in the polls. By the way, is Rick Santorum still in this race, or did he drop out as well?
Poor Huntsman. He's just as disgusted by this as Paul but gets even less attention.
Huntsman is the only sane and intelligent Republican candidate, which is probably why he has no chance of getting the nomination. I'd still vote for Obama over him, but the country could at least SURVIVE four years of Huntsman, which is more than can be said of any other Republican candidate in the field.
Trump is calling Ron Paul a clown...LOL
Truly great news for President Obama.
"turn it into a circus"....There's no shortage of Clowns for the occasion, that's for sure.
We certainly don't need a clown moderating another debate. There are enough of them already. They should all drop out and let Huntsman be their candidate. He is the only one with some class.
Good decision making. Donald Trump is a self absorbed a** The question is why would Iowa Republican party choose such a loser as Doanld Trump for their debate?
Ron Paul and Huntsman seem to be the only men that really reflect the office. The others will look at home with Trump on the stage. Trump calling Paul a clown? Excuse me but who's the guy wearing the funny wig?
Though I doubt if I would vote for him, I've just become a Ron Paul fan. Take away Donald Trumps wealth and degree of power that comes with that wealth, and you have a rather pathetic human being.
Wrong Doc- a GREAT idea for a SNL skit...!