(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.
"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."
Seriously,these fascists can actually say things like this with a straight face!!!LOL This, "turn out economy around" from the SAME PARTY that wrecked Americas economy 2001-2009 in the first place!!!
Sorry guys, but if someone burglarizes my house, I'm not going to invite him in to house sit for me.
These fascists really think Americans are stupid, and they are right...about the nearly half who vote fascist republican. So I guess you can't blame them for just saying what they herd wants to hear.
I don't generally agree with most anything that comes from the mouths of any of the GOP canidates, but Ron's stament and decision to not participate is right on. If these guys are the clowns, Trump wants to be their ring leader – Trump is even admitting that the GOP is like a circus act!
Trump would load the questions in favor of Perry. The GOP wants Perry to be the nominee in the worst way, but they just can't overcome his stupidity.
And after Trump, they need to have Rush moderate... and then after that Beck should.... This is almost like a gift from above having these fools moderate debates. Trump will be asking the question, and then commenting on why they are wrong. Probably will announce his candidicy shortly after.
With this election getting closer, the GOP candidates are being exposed, and becoming a joke! Theyve lost any and all credibility. On picking leaders based on W, SarahPAC, Trump, Bachmann, and Cains poll numbers
You need to get some brains! Hopefully, when the Democrats win both house Obama is going to put this country on the right track. It's just too bad that people like you will benefit from the Democrats hard work. You people will be complaining all the way to the bank about the socialists Obama, but not about those Socialists/Capitalists Crorporate Masters of yours. Its okay to say you are afraid of them, we know that is why you bend over and grab your ankles. We know that is now second nature to you and it seems you have now gotten to love it!
Amazing Jon Huntsman, the nominee, (they just don't know it yet) and Uncle Paul are able to see right though this clown act.
This debate may prove to be an anchor to all attendees... just sayin.
I am not a fan of Paul and slightly a fan of Huntsman, but both are correct on this one. Trump is in it for the publicity and nothing else, he probably needs money to bail himself out of some bankruptcy.
A clown show with a bunch of buffons is what this debate will be.
Vote Ron Paul. End the Fed. Prosecute the Fed and other officials for treason like Representative Louis McFadden charged in the 1930s when the Fed and the U.S. Corporation stole our individual sovereignty and made us collateral for the national debt so they could steal all property from us.
Republicans have an easy choice, Ron Paul or Barak Obama.
Paul and Huntsman are the only two with a bit of common sense. Trump is nothing more than a fool making a circus of the campaign. This just shows how stupid the other candidates are you will partipate in this worthless debate. Who wants to hear Trump run his stupid mouth with his baldheaded topaz. This again shows how worthless the field of Republican candidates is. What bunch of buffoons… Why are they even entertaining an invitation from this nut case? Trump is nothing more than a clown himself.
Can the republicans look any crazier ?
The Donald – The Fool !
As a Republican, it would not surprise me to find out later that the Democratic National Committee was behind having Trump host a Republican presidential debate. Trump appeals to the worst kind of voters, a carnival barker who devalues the serious enterprise of selecting our next Commander in Chief.
Agreeing to participate only demonstrates the desperation of Gingrich and Romney – and the integrity of Huntsman and Paul. indeed, Huntsman is emerging as a realistic alternative to the rest of the field, and his decision here only reinforces that fact.
I'm still waiting for the report from the investigators Trump sent to Hawaii.
Why does the media even give this man coverage -and I mean Trump? He has had more press than anyone in his position deserves.
The man is no roll model. Give every American 30 million dollars to begin their careers, the US Bankruptcy laws to protect them and let's see where they end up. He and anyone that listens to him are the problem with this country.
Huntsman and Paul....Good Job Sirs...Good Job.
"Reacting to the Paul campaign's comments, Trump slammed Paul as a non-electable candidate."
As hominem response. Republicans need to wake up and recognize that Huntsman is their best candidate.
I'd switch from Obama for a Paul-Huntsman or Huntsman-Paul ticket. Otherwise, no, no more reality TV "stars", thank you.
those were the only 2 electable candidates the Repubs had. Obama has this in the bag.
LOL. Each clown calling the other a clown.
I agree with Huntsman and Ron Paul. Donald Trump has no business being involved in anything that has to do with politics. For him to bash whoever does not want to attend is lunacy. Ron Paul is not a clown he is telling the truth about what is going on. Trump- go build another hotel and stay out of politics -Ron Paul does not have a zero percent chance of winning. Im so outraged by your comments as if you are an expert. I think it would be best if another moderator was chosen. Trump has no real business being there. Have Jim Cramer do it or Larry King or someone else. I would even suggest Elizabeth Hassebeck from The View. Ron Paul 2012. Give Him A Chance! He will give us our rights and liberties back!
Paul is a loser. However he did finally make a right decision. NO TRUMP.
Trump the ringmaster looking to suck up some media attention,.. the trained seals applauding,.. send in the clowns.