The writers of The Daily Show are mourning today. After a few weeks of having candidate after candidate opt to avoid his debate -- citing such reasons as "he's clown-like" and it's "beneath the office of the Presidency" and "LOL" -- reality teevee/real estate mogul and farmer of uncertain hair Donald Trump is pulling out as moderator of the Newsmax-sponsored GOP debate, currently scheduled for Dec. 27.
Trump's announcement has apparently caught Newsmax off guard, because as of this writing, Newsmax is still running this banner atop its website:
When the announcement was made that Donald Trump was to serve as a debate moderator, it was almost universally hailed as a moment when the entire political discourse in our country had finally given up and skulked off to the dark end of the parking lot to huff gas and wait for the pretty colors to come. GOP elites, especially, were not happy. Charles Krauthammer called the debate "a joke," George Will asserted that refusing to participate was a test of presidential mettle, and Karl Rove beseeched the Republican National Committee "to step in and fix this." RNC Chair Reince Priebus eventually did so, citing concern over the fact that Trump had not been willing to rule out an independent run of his own for presidency.
Meanwhile, the rest of the candidates did what they could to get out of showing up, with responses to the invitation ranging from genial declinations (from Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann) to mockery (from Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul). That left Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as the only participants and an angry Trump declaring that it was refusing to participate in his debate that was causing Mitt all of his misfortune in the polls.
But that was, you know, yesterday. Today, Trump has found the RNC's concerns to be a convenient way of saving face:
The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of The Apprentice, on May 20th, when the equal time provisions are no longer applicable to me, I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and that, unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend or be a part of the Newsmax debate scheduled for December 27, 2011. 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.
No word yet on whether Gingrich and Santorum will still attend this debate or even if it will go forward without Trump as the moderator, but who has time to think about that knowing that Tuesday night Christine O'Donnell is going to announce whom she is endorsing for president?
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