Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declined Donald Trump’s invitation to participate in his December 27 debate, sponsored by Newsmax Media and ION TV in Des Moines, Iowa, saying “We [already] have two debates in December that I’ve agreed to participate in. The rest of the month will be spent campaigning.”
Trump was gracious in his response, saying: “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. But I understand why Gov. Romney decided not to do it.”
But all Trump’s response did was to raise questions: Was Romney really that busy? Would his campaign benefit by his absence, appearing to be aloof and “above the fray” while his lessers battled between themselves? Did Romney want to put some distance between himself and Trump, as that relationship was appearing to be getting awfully cozy? Would Romney’s absence spell the death knell for the debate now that three of the contenders were planning to be campaigning elsewhere?
At present only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have agreed to attend, while Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are considering the matter. And supporters are getting nervous, especially the two “conservative” organizations who are cosponsoring the event, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the American Conservative Union (ACU). Spokesmen for each urged those on the fence to join Trump in Des Moines. Grover Norquist, founder and head of ATR, issued this statement:
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Photo of Mitt Romney: AP Images