Real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump is not used to failure. But after five of the seven Republican presidential candidates declined his invitation to participate in a debate in Iowa that he was scheduled to moderate in Iowa at the end of the month, he announced on Tuesday plans to bow out of the event. The Donald being Donald, however, he spun his decision in a way to make himself look as good as possible: He’s reserving his right to run as an independent candidate in the race next year if no Republican, in his opinion, is the “right candidate.”
"Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate,” said Trump in a statement released by his attorney. “The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington. I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!"
In the world according to Trump, the candidates who declined the invitation did so out of the fear that he could become their rival after The Apprentice’s final episode on May 20 and wouldn’t agree to participate unless he said definitively that he wouldn’t enter the race. Trump also praised current frontrunner Newt Gingrich and long shot Rick Santorum “for having the courage, conviction, and confidence to immediately accept being a part of the Newsmax debate.”
Truth be told, Rep. Michele Bachmann was the only candidate to cite the potential conflict of interest. Rep. Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman made it clear that they, like much of the Republican establishment, believed the forum would be more farce than serious discourse, while Gov. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney simply said they’d be too busy on the campaign trail. But, as any good reality star knows, why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
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(Photo: David Becker/Getty Images)