Although I'm not a fan of Trump and was highly critical of him during the birther nonsense, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul and especially Mitt Romney aren't doing themselves any favors by ducking The Donald. As of this writing, neither Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann have made a decision as to whether they will attend. Rick Santorum figures he nothing to lose by accepting the invitation while Newt, of course, just loves a good debate. Or as Daniel Halper of The Weekly Standard put it the other day:
Trump might be full of himself, but is he any worse than CBS's Scott Pelley? "Scott Pelley was a terrible moderator," Marc Thiessen wrote at the conclusion of the CBS hosted debate last month. "He treated the men who might be the next commander in chief like schoolchildren, cutting them off in mid-sentence, lecturing them to answer his questions."
And what about CNN's Anderson Cooper? Sure Trump is smarmy, but it would be a tight competition for who is smarmier between the two of them. Cooper helped make famous the derogative (and dirty) term "tea bagger" as a way of making of Tea Party conservatives.
Yet that never propelled fair-minded conservatives from saying that the Republican candidates should skip a debate hosted by Anderson Cooper.
Who knows? Trump could rise to the occasion. Stranger things have happened.
There are two potential downsides. First, would be if Trump were to drop F-bombs as he did during a speech last April in Las Vegas. Second, would be if he were to upstage the GOP candidates by announcing he will run as an independent candidate for President. Come to think of it, Trump could drop F-bombs while he's announcing his White House bid.
UPDATE: Via Daniel Foster at NRO, the Perry campaign has announced that the Texas Governor will not be participating. This leaves Bachmann as the only candidate who hasn't decided if she's in or out.
If Bachmann declines then I wonder if Trump and Newsmax will cancel the debate. I can't imagine them planning all this only to be left with a Gingrich-Santorum debate.
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