Many have compared watching the GOP presidential candidates "step in it" and gaffe themselves silly to watching a political reality-TV show, so what could be more appropriate than a "'Presidential Apprentice' Debate with The Donald"? Apparently pretty much anything else, according to former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and Texas representative Ron Paul, who have both declined to participate. Huntsman's campaign said what the Republican Party needs is a "serious discussion," as opposed to a blooper reel of a debate. The press release Ron Paul's campaign put out quickly crossed the line from diplomatic to sardonic, dripping with contempt for Trump, who was described as a "reality television personality." (We have highlighted our favorite bits below.)
The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity. Mr. Trump’s participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump’s participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere. Mr. Trump’s selection is also wildly inappropriate because of his record of toying with the serious decision of whether to compete for our nation’s highest office, a decision he appeared to make frivolously.
As for the other candidates, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann will likely show up, already having tried to curry favor with the gold-plated real estate magnate (and now GOP kingmaker?) — Bachmann even floated Trump as her possible VP pick, which might've been humorous were her campaign's prospects not so sad. Herman Cain is an obvious no-go, now that he's suspended his campaign. It's Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney who, by attending, could save this spectacle by bringing a little gravitas to the podium. But even if both bow out, we're sure Trump can rustle up a few of the upstanding leaders who've passed through his Apprentice properties to fill the empty spots on the debate stage.
Update: Newt Gingrich is the first candidate to formally accept an invitation to the debate, to be held in Iowa on December 27. To show he's with the times, he did so using Twitter.