U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas declined to participate in a Dec. 27 debate Trump will moderate, saying it would create a circus atmosphere, Politico reported.
"I'm actually very surprised that one of my friends would have said that," Gingrich said Monday during a joint media appearance with Trump at Trump Tower in New York. "This is a country of enormously wide-open talent. You know, Donald Trump is a great showman. He's also a great businessman. ... I think that we have to be open to new ways of doing things and new ways of approaching things."
The debate will be hosted by the conservative news organization Newsmax.
Paul wasn't the only candidate to decline and criticize the debate in the media. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman declined to participate, saying he wouldn't "kiss his [Trump's] ring" during an interview with Fox News.
Trump also used media to diss Paul and Huntsman, calling them "joke candidates" on Fox News Monday, saying he doesn't think either has a chance of winning the Republican nomination. Trump has been a prominent force in the GOP primary process, meeting with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Georgia businessman Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Alaska governor-turned-Fox-News-commentator Sarah Palin, who never declared her candidacy, but kept people guessing.
Trump, too, flirted with tossing his hat into the candidacy waters, but never did, although he has said he would consider an independent run if he doesn't think the eventual Republican nominee is up to snuff.
After the news conference, Politico said it received an e-mail from the Paul campaign, which took to task Trump and Gingrich, drawing on Gingrich's repeated denials that he is a lobbyist.
"We agree, of course, with former Speaker Gingrich: This is a country of people of enormous talent. Those who deliver thousands of babies like Dr. Paul and those who spend their time focusing on promoting themselves for profit. We even have those who lobby, but don't call it such because, as they say, they can make $60,000 per speech ... ."