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Trump fires himself as debate moderator


Donald Trump has pulled the plug on his own debate after top GOP candidates declined his invitation and several party leaders said the event was a bad idea since Trump was considering a presidential bid of his own. (ANDREW BURTON/REUTERS)

Donald Trump, the real estate mogul and reality-television star, has pulled the plug on his own debate after top GOP candidates declined his invitation and several party leaders said the event was a bad idea since Trump was considering a presidential bid of his own.

Trump, in canceling the Dec. 27 Iowa debate, said that he reserved his right to mount an independent presidential campaign.

“It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former House speaker Newt Gingrich had both agreed to take part in the debate. All the other major Republican candidates, however, either cited scheduling conflicts or Trump’s role as a reason to skip the event.

Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and former Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. were particularly critical, saying that the debate was beneath the dignity of a presidential run.

Former White House adviser Karl Rove weighed in, as well, saying that the Republican National Committee chairman had a duty to encourage GOP candidates to avoid the debate, given that Trump could launch an independent campaign.

Trump has flirted with a run since the spring, and nearly every candidate has gone to New York to meet with him.

Nia-Malika Henderson is a political reporter for The Fix.

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Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
Quoted
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
67% 22%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

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March 6: Democratic debate

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