Reuters reported earlier that the 12/27/11 debate being held by conservative news site Newsmax and television network Ion was going to go on as scheduled, despite the attraction of only two candidates – Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. However, the moderator, Donald Trump, has bowed out.
Many within the Republican Party had problems with Trump’s presence in the event. In particular, he had promised to make an endorsement after the debate, and had also kept the door open to mounting a third-party campaign for the White House if he didn’t like the eventual Republican nominee – stances which led to serious concerns about his objectivity.
In a statement, reported by the Washington Post, Trump said, “It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate.”
Many have noted that the debate schedule has been particularly crowded during the Republican nomination process. Nevertheless, the events have been drawing strong television audiences.
We have seen it reported that most news organizations have at least tacitly agreed not to schedule any events between Christmas and the Iowa caucuses 1/3/12. It remains to be seen if Trump’s absence will lead any other candidates to jump in.