Donald Trump, the real estate mogul, has abandoned his Dec. 27 debate, saying that the possibility he could run as an independent candidate presented a conflict of interest.
The development comes after five Republican candidates declined his invitation to participate in the debate, citing campaign scheduling problems. The politicians who previously sought his endorsement chose not to support the debate publicly, leaving Trump with only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to engage in verbal warfare on television.
Trump, however, says that the lack of candidacy at the event was not the problem, but that his right to run as an independent could be questioned if he moderated.
“I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate," said Trump in a statement.
The decision by Trump not only to cancel the debate, but to mention his own candidacy, could be telling of his feelings towards the current Republican candidates. Trump has stated repeatedly that his dissatisfaction with the GOP cast of contenders could prompt him to run and he reiterated that stance Tuesday.
"It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration,” said Trump. “But if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate,” the reality TV star said, he would not negate the possibility of running for president as an Independent.
The reports come in contrast to what NewsMax Media, the company sponsoring the debate, had reported.
The company’s editorial director, Steve Coz, was quoted as saying, “we just had a production meeting this morning, and we’re pushing full steam ahead, “ just last Friday, according to The New York Times.
Clearly, Trump reevaluated his stance on moderating the debate rather quickly, and possibly just in time. Pundits criticized the last two-man debates heavily, with the Cain-Gingrich and Huntsman-Gingrich events garnering low ratings in general.
Regardless of the trends, Trump said, "I believe this would not only have been the most watched debate, but also the most substantive and interesting debate."