(CNN) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry will not participate in a debate moderated by real estate mogul Donald Trump and hosted by NewsMax, his campaign announced Thursday.
Perry's Communications Director Ray Sullivan said they "respectfully declined the invitation for the December 27th debate" citing Perry's "traditional retail campaigning in the days and weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus" as top priority for the longest-running Texas governor's presidential campaign.
Perry is one of four current presidential candidates that have visited with Trump, ostensibly seeking an endorsement from the businessman who made waves while flirting with a bid for the 2012 Republican nomination for president himself.
Trump has also met with GOP contenders including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Trump told CNN's Piers Morgan Wednesday, "I know a lot of the moderators and some are wonderful, and some aren't, but I know the issues better than the moderators" and touted ratings of his reality show as an additional incentive to participate.
Although the debate was also endorsed by 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, so far former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Gingrich are the only candidates who have agreed to attend. Perry now joins former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and Romney, all of whom previously declined to participate.
Bachmann's campaign announced later on Thursday that she would be skipping the debate, as well.
And Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus took issue with Trump's role as moderator earlier in the day.
"I think that having a successful businessman serving as a moderator has a lot of value but the issue here is whether the moderator should be a person who is still batting around the idea of running as an independent," Priebus asserted.
Because his role as Republican National Committee chairman requires him to raise questions about the debate moderated by businessman Donald Trump, Priebus said, "I think it would be malpractice for me as an RNC chairman not to believe that's an issue."
Allowing that "candidates can do whatever they want to do," Priebus asserted his "concern of a moderator who is talking of running as an independent still being a moderator of a debate" in an interview on Fox News.
"I would have an issue with that and I would understand candidates who say, 'Look, I don't know if I want to avail myself where the moderator might be… still talking about potentially running as an independent candidate,'" Priebus said.
"I think that's a problem," he asserted.
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On Sunday, ole Reince didn't have a problem with Trump hosting this so called debate. Guess he was told otherwise...back stepping big time.
Remove all the vowels from his name and you have - TA DA:
RNC PR BS
And that just about sume him up.
The GOP 2012 Circus continues! The Dems should thank Trump for this sideshow – it only reinforces the complete disarray of a party lacking leadership, direction or vision.
'Bout freakin' time! I may be a die-hard Dem but there needs to be respect for the process and office of the POTUS. Trump is a joke and a flip-flopper when it comes to party affiliation.
I commend Jon Huntsman for standing up and calling this debate out for what it is: A JOKE!!! The candidates taking part in it are a joke as well.
Guess the "old guard" took Priebus out to the woodshed for some one on one "do as we say" training in their effort to protect Romney from The Donald. Didn't see that coming, did he? Buh bye, TeaPers.
Oh come on Reince – I already bought popcorn, hoping that Trump would maybe throw in a swimsuit or evening gown competition for these clowns to judge. Then maybe afterwards we could call in and vote one of them off the island. What a party pooper.
What is the big deal...just a continuation of the GOP/Tea Party presidential debate circus drama.
At least the GOP has entertainment value. I just wish it wasn't totally outweighed by the damage they are doing to America.
I agree, Trump should NOT be moderating a debate. We don't need any more debates, let alone a debate with him as moderator. Although he'd probably be better than some of the leftwing hacks they've had in the past.
"I think that having a successful businessman serving as a moderator has a lot of value" Priebus said.
Well if you want "successful", someone who has declaired bankruptsy multiple times might not be your guy. Then again, you are a Republican.
I wonder how long it would take Trump to try and run the US through Chapter 11 like he did with the Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts Inc., and Trump Entertainment Resorts?
This is a step he, the chairman, need to take when it come to dealing with any GOP member who treat the party as third party. Palin talks a lot about Tea Party as if she and the Tea Party are mercinaries of GOP who can just pick up and go and form third party.
I would require that my participation be contingent upon Trump making good on his promise to the American people to disclose his financial records if Pres. Obama produced a birth certificate. No IOUs either. Trump would have to ante up.
Can't you just see a President Gingrich appointing Donald Trump as Ambassador to China? Can anyone name any politician who regards Newt Gingrich as an ally?
So Priebus has finally said something. If Mike Steele were still chariman he would have jumped on this the day it was announced. Day late and a dollar short.
Watch out Donald ,you have angered the GOP top honcho, You have made him so mad he may snap at you or mess up your hair ,if that is possible. The real America will have a good laugh when these two try to hit each other with their purses.
This debate is a joke. Just to hear Trump speak makes me sick. Perry is doubting about attending and I think Bachman will hold off if she has any sense left. I think after the debate Trump will endorse Gingrinch. GINGRINCH-TRUMP 2012...............which will be a easy landslide for OBAMA.
Why screw around with Trump who still might be a candidate? Just have Obama moderate the next GOP debate.
What a joke!!! Once again Ron Paul is spot on.
Trump is just an attention freak. He won't run for any office anyway. He would have to show his finances.
Anyone could ask more relevant questions than many of the so-called journalists, who are allowed to moderate debates.
Hmmm ! Reince Priebus the Republican National Committee chairman sounds like he wants to walk back on the issue. Over the weekend i think on meet the press he had no issue at all about the Trump debate. LOL sounds just like a tea bag
It almost sounds like the chairman is descending into panic mode. Like he just now noticed that Republican field is a runaway train wreck and it is taking the entire party with it while America watches. This is what happens when you allow the leading conservative "thinkers" and voices to be people like Palin, Beck, and Limbaugh for three years.
To GI Joe re RNC PR BS: Wish I'd come up with that! Well done!
"Who cares what priebus or trump think or do"?? RNC is already "Damaged Goods" no matter what candidate wins?? Their all "Toast" in 2012! Can,t wait! Obama 2012
It's about time Reince. I thought for a moment you were actually going to allow the Republican Presidential primary race to be turned into a reality show with the "Trumpster" as the host. The Republican Presidential primary race is already a three ring circus as it is. Jeez!