Billionaire businessman Donald Trump officially is not part the 2012 presidential race after bowing out in May, but that is not stopping him from trying to be part of the action, or as some would call it, distraction.
Trump will play host in a debate with Republican presidential candidates on Dec. 27 in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate will be broadcast on Ion Television, a cable network, and many people, considering Trump’s flair for the dramatics, are wondering if this will be the most memorable GOP debate yet.
So far, GOP candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have both agreed to participate in the debate. Candidate Michele Bachmann has announced that her campaign is “still in the process of looking at” participating. Her main concern with the debate is Trump’s ability to be objective, she said on CBS’ “Early Show.”
Bachmann, however, has met with Trump several times during the campaign and noted that she has “great respect for him.”
Other GOP candidates such as Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul have rejected to participate in the debate, citing Trump as the reason.
GOP heavyweights such as Arizona Senator John McCain and political analyst Karl Rove have come out slamming the Trump debate.
While appearing on Fox News, McCain wondered if any candidates should participate in the debate at all.
“It’s their decision, but I do think that on Dec. 27, on an obscure network, I wonder if that is the best use of the candidates’ time, I think they should be resting up over Christmas and the next few days and be ready to go right after the first of January.”
When asked by Fox host Gretchen Carlson if he would attend the debate if he were running for election, McCain said that he didn’t know and added:
“I guarantee you, there are too many debates and we have lost the focus on from what the candidates’ vision for America is to who’s going to make a mistake? Let’s have a gotcha question to see if they’ll stumble and surprise everybody, and that’s not what debates are supposed to be about and I don’t think it’s helping the Republican Party or our candidates,” he said.
Rove also appeared on Fox News questioning Trump’s integrity in being the debate’s moderator.
"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?" he 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!'"
He also warned the GOP candidates about appearing at the debate while further questioning Trump’s ability to ask impartial questions.
"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?"
Trump hit back on MSNBC’s Monday edition of “Morning Rundown,” and said that Rove was responsible for giving America George Bush who “crashed and burned and because of that we have Obama. The Republicans need to get rid of Karl Rove and they need fresh blood because Karl Rove is going to lead them into doom."
But not everyone is against the Trump debate.
“Our readers and the grassroots really love Trump,” said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media, a conservative magazine and sponsor of the upcoming debate, according to The New York Times.
“They may not agree with him on everything, but they don’t see him as owned by the Washington establishment, the media establishment.”
Trump is not the only controversial figure associated with the upcoming debate. Eason Jordan, the former CNN chief news executive who resigned after saying the U.S. military was killing journalists in Iraq, will be the executive producer. Many fellow journalists and readers alike accused Jordan of sitting on stories about the Saddam Hussein regime in order to protect the regime in exchange for access, according to The Hill.
In 2005, Jordan’s comments stating that he believed the U.S. military was purposefully targeting journalists in Iraq forced him to resign from CNN a month later.
If controversy draws viewers, then this debate may just receive the highest ratings of all the debates yet.