WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- On-again, off-again presidential candidate Donald Trump Tuesday pulled out as moderator of a planned Republican presidential debate.
Trump had been selected to moderate the planned Dec. 27 Newsmax debate a week ahead of the Iowa caucuses. However, a number of top GOP candidates said they would not participate and party leaders said a Trump-moderated debate might be a bad idea given that Trump has said he may run as an independent, The Washington Post reported.
"I would like to thank Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum for having the courage, conviction, and confidence to immediately accept being a part of the Newsmax debate," Trump said. "I believe this would not only have been the most watched debate, but also the most substantive and interesting debate!"
Trump has flirted with running for president several times -- the most recent foray ended last spring.
"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," Trump 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."