(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.
"Those who are able to produce the highest quality, working the longest hours at the lowest labor costs will contribute greatest to capitalism" Wow! No amount of derisive comment could project the idiocy that that statement makes about it's author.
I, like many others I'm sure, am going to vote for the candidate that does not suck up to The Donald. How pathetic.
I really am not sure why anyone will meet with this guy in the first place. It's not like he has a following and now a debate????
Trump's comments re: Paul's chances confirm that Paul is right. Trump is a buffoon!
Can't argue with Ron Paul here.
Alaska Palin – who is cannibalizing capitalism? Teachers and auto workers? Really? Not the guys who make money out of thin air, who make tens of millions of dollars a year as well as tens of millions more in golden parachutes, yet are first in line for the government handouts and bailouts? Or those hedge fund managers who make billions a year, and pay 15% taxes? And how about that corporate and banker socialism? Wow. Paying multi billion dollar corporations tax subsidies? Is that the socialism you're talking about, or no?
The fact that Trump sees it as okay to pronounce that two actual candidates campaigns are nothing but waste of times, while he not so subtly pimps his own show is just bad taste and shows that he is likely incapable of moderating an unbiased debate. His ego has no bounds, and it's obvious that he will do everything he can during the "debate" to simply enhance his own standing, and any candidate participating will be forced to spend much of their time competing with the moderator for attention.
What's next, a debate moderated by Joe the Plumber and Snooki?? What a disgrace that ANY presidential hopeful would attend such a circus event. Not on my life would I vote for any of these clowns over Obama.
I can't wait to see what Saturday Night Live will do with this one, it's going to be HUGE!
When is NBC going to fire Trump? The man is a loon!
Donald Trump Is rounding up all the Republican Clowns for his Circus. This Is really becoming a big joke.
Trump? Are you KIDDING me? He's a self-absorbed buffoon and the Republican candidates and party as a whole are demonstrating their inability to tackle the important issues this nation faces by participating in this foolishness. Good god, we are quickly becoming a third world country and it just may be too late to save the Republic!
To "AlaskaPalin" - What in the H#*L are you babbling about?!
Ron Paul's foreign policy is what is inappropriate!
This reassures my impression of the present state of the GOP. It's a total circus with the exception of two candidates, and those happen to be the two that didn't give this particular fiasco a second thought. WTH is the GOP thinking to allow this?
ron paul might win
While I don't agree with Paul's position on most issues, I give him kudos for his position on this issue. The "Trump Debate" is likely to be a circus event. Paul and Huntsman have again demonstrated they are the only Republican candidates who have any class. A "Trump Debate" is the perfect venue for the likes of Bachmann and Santorum. Mitt and Newt will be there because they pander to the likes of Trump.
Obama in 2012!
I wanted to say that the wheels fell off when the Republicans decided to have Trump moderate the "debate", but I think the wheels fell off some time ago. This is just a continuance of them dragging the sideshow down the road without wheels.
Oh my goodness I love the English language. Every once in a while it produces something so funny it is well ironically, beyond words. According to Webster "moderate" is one of those many words that serve us as both noun and verb and like many in English this word is pronounced differently depending on its usage. As a verb: moderate is what the Donald plans to do. However as a noun he is certainly not a "moderate". In fact he is quite the opposite and so are the Tea Pardiots he inspires. It is just strange to me to to see the word "moderate" any where near this guy. BTW I still want to see the Birth Certificate for that thing on his head.
Maybe we'll see a good ball game of some kind that night. Can't think of a printable word to describe my opinion of Trumpster.
"Those who are able to produce the highest quality, working longest hours at lowest labor cost will contribute greatest to the system," Alaska Palin said. What kind of society do you envision? One where people earn slave labor wages and fight tooth and nail in the gutter to achieve the lowest salary they can? I feel sorry for you and anyone who subscribes to this neanderthal like mentality. We have evolved! I am a proud member of 3 unions that protect my rights an make sure I earn a decent living and have some security in my retirement. Your vision of the world sounds like the dark ages.
Listen to Trump speak and see how many times he says I. I, me I, me, my I, I, mine, my, I, me. It's his whole dialogue. The late George Harrison once wrote a song exposing these type of human beings and their ego's. It was called I, ME, MINE.
I'm with alex208... Trump calling Ron Paul a clown. You cannot make this stuff up! Oh the hilarity!
Trump called it right. Paul is a clown that has been running for president every 4 years. Huntsman is a nobody that just wants some limelight. Go Newt and Mitt, good ticket.
My friend know that presdient obama was too young that he was used pots smoke with his friend at chicago
Donald Trump is representative of the phony, self-serving, GOP candidates running for President. Good for Ron Paul for skipping this gong show hosted by a self-promoting, mob-connected clown.