Donald Trump says he's withdrawing as moderator of a GOP presidential debate in Iowa. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were the only Republican candidates who agreed to the Dec. 27 debate, sponsored by the conservative website Newsmax. The rest of the GOP field bowed out, with Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman making clear they believe the debate would be a spectacle with Trump as moderator. "I believe this would not only have been the most watched debate, but also the most substantive and interesting debate," Trump said in a statement. Trump said he's still not ruling out the possibility of running for president as an independent. He said he's stepping aside as moderator of the debate to avoid any conflict of interest.
Yeah, I'm sure The Donald is deeply troubled by this possible conflict of interest, so he's withdrawing on principle, for the good of the republic. If anything, he determined that this debacle was shaping up to conflict with his own financial and brand interests, and pulled the plug. Say what you will about the man, he certainly knows how to exit with a bombastic, self-serving flourish. I've made my stance on this entire farce perfectly clear from day one, so I'm not the least bit disappointed that this event appears to have been nipped in the bud. Another early critic of the doomed Trump/Ion/Newsmax enterprise, Michelle Malkin, poses a few post-Trump fallout questions:
What will Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich (who called anyone not participating a coward) do now?
More pointedly, what will dictator-appeaser, troop-smearer and executive producer Eason Jordan do now?
Maybe Newsmax will hire him. They’ve done such a great job trying to rehabilitate the CNN left-winger’s image already.
Or maybe Trump 2012 spokesman?
There's buzz on Twitter about how to "replace" or resurrect this debate from the ashes. But does it really need saving at all? We just saw another debate on Saturday, there's yet another Iowa face-off on Fox News this Thursday (I'm here in Sioux City to cover it), then it's basically Christmas in most Americans' minds. Even if there is an appetite for salvaging this event, is there sufficient time to work out the logistics and secure commitments from reticent candidates?
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography