(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.
Trump moderating the debate is the final proof that these Republican debates are a sham. They essentially are running the primary campaign on the cheap by getting nearly free publicity in the debate.
To date, the Republican candidates have spent about 60% of what was spent by this point in 2008.
Donald- on behalf of the vast majority of Americans, PLEASE GO AWAY.
When I first heard Trump would be the moderator, I thought 'now, it truly has become a circus!' He has no credibilty for this position and the fact that he then disses Dr. Paul and Mr. Huntsman proves that – he should have remained neutral! Dr. Paul and Mr. Huntsman are right in their thoughts on this matter. Mr. Huntsman is the only Republican candidate I would consider voting for in the election – and as a 30-year Democrat, I have always voted for the Democrat presidential candidate! (I also would have considered Colin Powell). (State, House Rep, Senator = I usually vote either/or but for 2012 it looks like I will be voting straight Democrat. As far left as possible!).
Trump is so butthurt that they aren't attending, especially because he's trying so hard to make this seem like a real debate. The only sane candidates won't be attending so this will for sure be a joke.
" The Donald" ? More like " The Buffoon"
Donald Trump had the one thing that prepares you to become a rich man His father was rich, and Trump inherited his money
Trump's comments prove once again that he is thin-skinned and a braggard.
Trump is a POS egomaniac. I wouldn't want to be there either. Hats off to Paul and Huntsman!
Trump needs to find a sharp stick and fall on it. From my chair, he has as much credibility as a viable human as does the fictional character Pee Wee Herman (no slight to the actor paul Reubens, only his alter ego).
In fact, perhaps less... Pee Wee has a conscience at least.
Good for Ron Paul in not giving Trump any consideration. Paul has better hair than Trump anyway.
AlaskaPalin, you are as big an egotistical moron as Trump! You really don't have any real idea of what you are talking about. Just right-wing buzzwords, strung together to infer a degree of intelligence and understanding that is actually sadly lacking. "Those who are able to produce the highest quality, working longest hours at lowest labor cost will contribute greatest to the system" sounds a little too much like a system of indentured servitude. In a consumer driven society, how will the workers (Ayn Rand definition: parasites) be able to afford any of the products being produced by their labor? The American middle class did not come about by the lowest possible wages fro the longest possible hours worked, but rather by the rise of the labor unions. Since you have no historical point of reference, the republican party used to campaign in favor of the labor unions, back in the 50's, 60's and 70's. They used to speak before the AFL-CIO long before the neo-cons decided that unions were the enemy of everything, thanks to your demigod, Ronald Reagan. (But before he ran for any office, he was head of the screen actors guild, a labor union) I know I'm wasting my time with people who think like you, but someone has to try and be a voice of reason here, and that is not you!
Moderators are supposed to be fair and impartial. I don't think anyone in the country could honestly call Trump either.
It must take a lot of personal courage and conviction to decide not to participate in nation wide televised event, especially when neither of these candidates get enough main stream media attention. These debates often act as the only chance for candidates to appeal to the American people and are often crucial to doing well in the polls. The decision to not attend a debate speaks very highly of these two candidate's personal integrity.
Ron Paul 2012
Ron Paul doesn't have a legacy of baggage – he's upfront and understands the back door crap that our Congresspeople have taken advantage of for years. He lacks carrisma because he is not a bull*$%^ artist but he knows what the 'world bank order' and 'patriot act' mean to our freedoms. He speaks the facts from years of knowledge. Ron Paul, on Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paull, Ron Paul...........
I am a Demovrat that neither agrees with or could support Ron Paul, however, in this instance, I find myself in total agreement with him about the Republican Reality Debates Show. "Donald The Chump" is not a credible Journalist and brings nothing but BS to the debate. While I like John Huntsman, I find him to be the smartest and most responsible Republican candidate and he is right about the remainder of the candidates taking part in the debate as a means of "Sucking Up" to "The Chump".
ugh! Trump is a joke. and Ron Paul, other than when he gets into his no government whatsoever schtick, i think he makes a lot of sense. of course, i would never vote repu-gnant-blican. the guys in this group are like the stooges.
Appropriate to have the biggest clown be the ringmaster of this circus
Although I think Trump is a joke he is right on mark with his comments on Ron Paul. Ron Paul is unelectable, is anti-American, and is an appeaser to terrorism and in fact blames America for 9/11 and would allow such barbaric and cruel regimes in the Islamic Republic to acquire nuclear weapons. In fact, Ron Paul is a moral coward – nothing more and nothing less.
Although I think Trump is a joke he is right on mark with his comments on Ron Paul. Ron Paul is unelectable, is anti-American, and is an appeaser to ter rorism and in fact blames America for 9/11 and would allow such ba rbaric and cruel regimes in the Islamic Republic to acquire nuclear weapons. In fact, Ron Paul is a moral cow ard – nothing more and nothing less.
Although I think Trump is a joke he is right on mark with his comments on Ron Paul. Ron Paul is unelectable, is anti-American, and is an appeaser to ter rorism and in fact blames America for 9/11 and would allow such ba rbaric and cru el regimes in the Islamic Republic to acquire nu clear weapons. In fact, Ron Paul is a moral cow ard – nothing more and nothing less.
If Huntsman won the primary I would at least have to weigh my options between he and Obama. With any of the other GOP candidates my vote will easily go to President Obama.
Although I think Trump is a joke he is right on mark with his comments on Ron Paul. Ron Paul is unelectable, is anti-American, and is an appeaser to ter rorism and in fact blames America for 9/1 1 and would allow such ba rbaric and cru el regimes in the Isl amic Republic to acquire nu clear weapons. In fact, Ron Paul is a moral cow ard – nothing more and nothing less.
Although I think Trump is a j oke he is right on mark with his comments on Ron Paul. Ron Paul is unelectable, is anti-American, and is an appeaser to ter rorism and in fact blames America for 9/1 1 and would allow such ba rbaric and cru el regimes in the Isl amic Republic to acquire nu clear weap ons. In fact, Ron Paul is a moral cow ard – nothing more and nothing less.
Although I think Trump is a j oke he is right on mark with his comments on Ron Paul. There is no greater moral coward and appeaser to terror than Ron Paul.
Although I think Trump is a j oke he is right on mark with his comments on Ron Paul.
They keep saying he is not electable, but everywhere I go I find Ron Paul supporters. I think it is the 'status quo', the NWO supporting RINO's and DEM's along with the rest of the crooked two groups that use DC as their personal cash cow, which are terrified of the idea of a Ron Paul Presidency, as he will end their gravy train. They and the media corporations they influence are trying desperately to get the general population to ignore the ONLY honest Politician we have left in DC. I will be Voting for Ron Paul GOP, LP, or any other label he uses. The Ron Paul Revolution is not just another campaign, it is the campaign to restore America from the abuses of the Two Majorly Crooked Parties! Which is why the GOP and the DEM leaders wish he would just disappear. This election is about finally turning the bus around and saving our nation from the Status Quo users and abusers of "we the people". RON PAUL 2012 or Bankruptcy and Collapse.