Huffpost Politics

Donald Trump GOP Debate Draws Objections From Karl Rove, Other Republicans

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WASHINGTON -- Real estate giant Donald Trump says former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "doesn't get the traction" he needs to nail down the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump, who will moderate a GOP candidate debate on Dec. 27, says Romney struggles to stay in front, saying "I don't know what it is."

Trump tells NBC's "Today" accusations that Romney flip-flops on issues are absurd, saying "we all change our minds on things."

He brushed aside decisions by both Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman to stay out of the debate, calling them "joke candidates."

Huntsman shot back on Fox News Monday, saying, "I'm not going to kiss his ring and I'm not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy."

Trump says "a lot of Republicans, top Republicans, asked me to do the debate." And he also says that if he isn't satisfied the GOP is putting up a viable candidate against President Barack Obama, he'd again consider running himself.

But former Bush adviser Karl Rove is one top Republican who isn't keen on the idea of Trump's debate. Here's what he said on Fox News Monday morning, via GOP12.

"Should a guy who's going to endorse be the impartial moderator of the debate?

More importantly, what the heck are the Republican candidates doing showing up at a debate with a guy who says 'I may run for president next year as an independent'?

I think the Republican National Chairman [Reince Priebus] ought to step in and say: We strongly discourage every candidate from appearing in a debate, moderated by somebody who's going to run for president."

Over the weekend, however, Priebus appeared unwilling to counsel the candidates on whether or not they should attend Trump's event.

"It's up to the candidates. I mean, I don't make those decisions," Priebus said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

On Monday, Rove also made a harsher assessment of the Trump-hosted debate.

"It's going to be a giant ego trip, and anybody who thinks that Donald Trump is going to be the equivalent of Bret Baier or any of the other moderators we've had is kidding themselves," Rove said.

Trump has played a dual role this primary season as a popular counselor to GOP presidential candidates and outspoken agitator happy to tease his own potential third-party run. Earlier this year he decided against running as a Republican.

"I absolutely have another bite," Mr. Trump said in an interview about the prospect of running as an independent. "If the economy continues to be bad and if the Republicans choose the wrong person, I would do it."

"You need a big name, and you need big money," he continued. "And guess who’s got that?"

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