(CNN) - Donald Trump's Republican presidential debate took another hit Wednesday when White House hopeful Mitt Romney said he wouldn't participate in the event.
Romney is now the third candidate to decline Trump's invitation to participate in the event. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Texas Rep. Ron Paul both said earlier this week they were skipping the debate, questioning Trump's seriousness as a political moderator.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have all said they'll be on the stage at the debate, which is slated for Dec. 27. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has yet to say whether or not she'll participate.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday in Arizona, Romney said the upcoming debate schedule was so crowded he had to say no to Trump.
"We've had requests for quite a few debates, we decided on two in December. The 10th and 15th and we're not adding any others in December," Romney said. "We'll look at January's request. I think we have ten requests for January debates. We'll probably do two or maybe three in January."
The former Massachusetts governor said he had spoken with the reality show host and businessman Wednesday morning to submit his regrets.
"We've already set our calendar in December and I communicated to Mr. Trump that that schedule is completed," Romney said.
In a statement to CNN, Trump cited Romney's declining poll numbers, but said he understood the candidate's predicament.
"It would seem logical to me that if I was substantially behind in the polls, especially in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, I would be participating in the debate," Trump said. "But, I can also understand why Governor Romney decided not to do it."
The Donald always looking to get his ugly face in the news. Please Trump do us all a favor and go away, anywhere, but just do it now.
Even in this, Mitt looks wishy-washy. Why didn't have a decision right away? Why did he only turn this down after the buzz in the media and political circles about this being a joke event.
Not much of a debate when all of the participants will just say whatever they think will get a nod from "The Donald"!
Just read the last paragraph, when Trump decides what the candidate is thinking, and what he should do. That should be a spotlight on how he would moderate.... Ask a question, get an answer, and belittle the candidate with his own interpretation of the truth according to Trump. Beware of anything with Trump associated with it. Like his publicized dealings with Ghadaffi, "I cheated him, and he thinks he is a world leader", Trump's truth is out there... way out there!
In the land of Trump and his brand of truth, beware of flying pigs, and don't drink the kool-aid. Insulating yourself from your disastrous real estate dealings, letting others take the fall is not success, it is sleazy, PERIOD!
romney flip-flopped again!
gingRICH and Trump – what a pair. Two fat, old, white gas bags that would kill if someone got between them and a camera. Where is the ever present Calista, the zombie wife? Did Newtie check with her before talking to The Donald? The next thing we're going to hear is that gingRICH has a plan. Remember that line the first time Nixon ran? Once a crook always a crook. gingRICH is nothing more than a big loudmouth who loves to hear himself talk. Anyone stupid enough to believe that a Republican cares about the middle class is even more stupid than anyone thought was possible.
Trump is a Media Hog they all should stay away from that guy .
I am belived that iowa and south0 carolina are keep play games vote for mitt gininch
Good choice for ROMNEY!!! he has to prepare with the other ones and it's crowded!!!!.
ROMNEY WILL DEFEAT NEWT, BECAUSE TRUMP AND NEWT PLAY GOLF TOGETHER.
Yeh for Romney. The only thing is declining Trumps debate that I will give him any credit for!!!!!!!
I love your idea ! Ron Paul,Romney and Huntsman should have a serious debate just before Trumps reality show and that would be a slap in the face to the idiots who participate in the Carnival Barker debate with Trump
I wouldn't accept an invitation to lunch with Trump. He's a joke and the further the Republican hopefuls distance themselves from him the better off they will be.
Trump and NEWT are making a mockery of the GOP/TP candidates and the debating process. What happened to the dignity?
I'm sure that he will change his mind – depending on the polls! LOL!
Dis the Donald? Oh Romney!
Gingrich and Trump can still debate each other. They can argue for the Gold standard, or the Silver standard (hairstyle that is).
Maybe if the host would be Al Sharpton or Charlie Rangle it wolud be worth watching. Donald Trump who could stand him attempting to do anything logical, A self centered spoiled phoney with a few bucks is bad enough and to have Gingrich and Trump as a boring duo would only help the alka seltzer manufacurers.
I'm no Romney fan but I am really admiring his courage to stand up to this phoney.
For once, I am loving Romney.
All of the decent candidates, including Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, have now opted out of the debate. That's that, now.
You know to me this sounds like another attempt of pacification from Mitt Romney...if he was anything but a pacifist he would have just came out and said he didn't want to participate not cite some phoney balogna about his upcoming debate schedule. Way to go Mitt... NOT!!!
@ woodpile - How about a face off between Romney, Paul and Huntsman moderated by Jim Lehrer the day before Trumps Reality Debate?
Good suggestion, but I think they should do it the day after. Let the clowns have their little song and dance audition with Trump, then the grown up candidates can show them how it should be done with a productive debate.
Good Choice Mitt Romney!!!!!! Donald in his usual temper tantrum, reality show way, shouted, insulted and classlessly went after Mitt for not playing in Trump's nasty sandbox. So we can all imagine what kind of "host" he'll be on this debate or whatever it really is?
Let's be realistic. If Trump is moderating the debate, no candidate will be able to get a word in edgewise anyway.
...most adult thing he has done in years...just saying "no" is a start.
Romney could have either gone and attacked the whole thing as a charade or not gone and attacked it as a charade. Honestly, either way would probably better position him for the 2012 general and with more mainline Republicans (not moderate Republicans). Instead he kinda weasels out and says there's a scheduling conflict. Don't you understand Mitt? No one who likes or liked Trump ever would vote for you except if you're the nominee. I think whenever Romney has the chance to do something that would make him look presidential, he just looks wimpy.
Maybe Donald can debate himself. That's the only way this pompous blowhard could come out on top in this fiasco.