Donald Trump says he is ok with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney turning down his invitation to the Iowa debate Trump will moderate Dec. 27.
"It would seem logical to me that if I was substantially behind in the polls especially in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, I would want to participate in this debate," Trump told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday. "But I understand why Gov. Romney decided not to do it."
The outspoken real estate billionaire did not give any further comment on his feelings about Romney’s decline.
"No, I'm not participating in that," Romney told Fox news anchor Neil Cavuto on Tuesday. "We have two debates in December that I've agreed to participate in. The rest of the month will be spent campaigning."
Romney also told Cavuto he had already spoken to Trump on the phone about his decision not to attend the debate.
Newt Gingrich, now the front running Republican presidential candidate, and Rick Santorum, Attorney and former U.S Senator from Pennsylvania, have both confirmed they will attend the Iowa debate. Other Republican candidates such as Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman have staunchly denied participation. Both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are still undecided.
Some conservatives have called the upcoming debate a mockery.
Both Tim Miller, a spokesman for Jon Huntsman, and Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s campaign manager, released statements on behalf of their candidates rejecting Trump as a moderator.
Miller labeled the debate "The 'Presidential Apprentice' Debate with The Donald.”
Benton called Trump moderating the debate “wildly inappropriate” and said Trump would "contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere."
Karl Rove, an ardent conservative and former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, told Fox news on Monday: "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?"
"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!'"
There are some right wing groups that do support Trump moderating the Republican debate.
Conservative groups like The Americans for Tax Reform and The American Conservative Union have released public statements endorsing Trump moderating the Republican debate.
"I am assured that Donald Trump will be a fair-minded moderator and joined by serious journalists," Grover Norquist, President of the tax reform group said.
"This will be a serious debate focused on serious issues. Conservatives across the nation will appreciate a debate hosted by a trusted conservative media outlet like Newsmax," the American Conservative Union stated.