GOP strategist Karl Rove appeared on Fox News Monday night and continued to rail against an upcoming Republican presidential debate being moderated by real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump.
"We've got a guy who is not only saying 'I'm going to make a decision about who I'm gonna endorse shortly after this debate and I'm already leaning someway -- and I may run myself,' and we expect him to be the impartial moderator of the debate?" Rove said on "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren. "Could you imagine what would happen if MSNBC was hosting a debate and the moderator said, 'well, I'm going to endorse one of the Republican candidates after this debate'? Everybody would say 'we're not showing up!'"
As Trump's debate stands now, not every candidate is promising to attend. Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul have both rejected their invites, while some other candidates have not yet committed to the Dec. 27 event. On Monday morning, Trump took a shot at Huntsman and Paul, calling them "joke candidates."
On Monday evening, Rove, who had earlier raised concerns about the nature of the debate, directed more pointed criticism at Trump and his history of controversial views.
"Is Mr. Trump going to ask the candidates whether they agree with him that Barack Obama was not born in the United States?" Rove asked. "Do they agree with him that George W. Bush is 'evil' and that Nancy Pelosi was 'great'? These are the kind of questions we might have from Mr. Trump -- these are all views of his."
Rove continued, questioning Trump's journalistic integrity and warning GOP candidates about the potential harm they could do themselves by partaking in the event.
"This is not a newsman, this is not somebody who's gonna sit down and meticulously prepare for this like a Bret Baier would do or some of these other anchors would do," Rove said. "This is a guy who is an active actor in this. He's already indicated he's leaning toward endorsing somebody, you know he could do a lot of damage to somebody and I suspect it's not gonna be to the candidate that he's leaning towards. This is a man who says himself that he's going to a potentially run for president of the United States starting next May. Why do we have that person moderating a debate?"
Then Rove hit Trump in a spot that's likely to have some resonance: the ratings.
"I would suspect this will have the smallest viewership of any one of the debates this year," Rove said, pointing out that the television network it's airing on, ION, is smaller than some of the others that have hosted debates.
Trump is slated to be a guest on Tuesday night's "On the Record," where Rove's latest comments will most likely be raised. Trump was quick to respond to Rove's earlier complaints from Monday, bashing him on that day's edition of MSNBC's "Morning Rundown."
"Karl Rove gave us George Bush and George Bush crashed and burned and because of that we have Obama," Trump said. "The Republicans need to get rid of Karl Rove and they need fresh blood because Karl Rove is going to lead them into doom."