WASHINGTON (AP) — Business mogul Donald Trump said Friday he might scrub a presidential debate that so far has drawn only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Trump, the reality television star who has not ruled out an independent White House bid, had hoped for all of the Republican candidates to join in a debate he would moderate Dec. 27 in Iowa. Most have decided not to, leaving only Gingrich, a former House speaker, and Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator.
“I have to look into it,” Trump told Fox Business Network when asked whether he would host a two-candidate debate.
Trump was most indignant about Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann skipping out.
“She came up to see me four times. She would call me and ask me for advice,” Trump said. “She said if she wins, she would like to think about me for the vice presidency. Most importantly, I did a two-hour phone call for her with her people. … And after all that, she announced she was not going to do the debate. It’s called loyalty. How do you do that? It’s amazing to me.”
Trump has said he might endorse a Republican but could make a third-party run himself.
Some conservatives grouse his involvement is tarnishing the GOP’s image and nominating process.
“This is exactly what is wrong with politics. It’s show business over substance,” said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is skipping the debate.
“I didn’t know he had the ability to lay on hands and anoint people,” said Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is also skipping it.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry also plan to skip it.