Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Tuesday that he will not attend the Newsmax ION Television 2012 Presidential Debate to be moderated by real estate magnate and best-selling author Donald Trump.
Romney told Fox News' Neil Cavuto that he will not participate in the Iowa debate, which takes place on Dec. 27. He gave no reason, but Romney said on the show that he had spoken with Trump and informed the multimillionaire businessman and entertainer that he will not attend.
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GOP frontunner Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum have both agreed to participate in the debate. And several major conservative groups and leaders endorsed the debate on Tuesday.
“We have to be open to new ways of doing things and new ways of approaching things,” Gingrich said Monday during a visit to New York City to meet with Trump.
Gingrich then praised Trump and Newsmax, adding, “I thought it was great when [Donald Trump] agreed to do it. I think it’s great that Newsmax is helping launch it. It’s part of the process by which America governs itself."
On Tuesday, the debate also got endorsements from two icons of conservatism, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and the American Conservative Union, which sponsors the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The ACU is a sponsor of the debate.
“It’s vital that conservatives have their own forum with the candidates, and I believe Newsmax and ION will provide this opportunity for us to properly vet the Republican candidates on the issues," said Norquist, who is famous for the no-tax pledge signed by GOP lawmakers.
“I am assured that Donald Trump will be a fair-minded moderator and joined by serious journalists," Norquist added. "This contrasts with several debates that have already occurred which have been moderated by hostile members of the left-wing media. I strongly urge all GOP candidates to attend this debate.”
“The American Conservative Union is proud to sponsor the upcoming Newsmax ION Television 2012 Presidential Debate," ACU Chairman Al Cardenas said Tuesday. The Newsmax ION Television 2012 Presidential Debate is scheduled for Dec. 27 in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Debates have already played a key role in this nominating process and present our best opportunity for comparing and contrasting candidates on core conservative issues," Cardenas said. "As the critical Iowa Caucuses quickly approach, we must continue vetting the field to ensure conservatives put forward a tested, competent leader to challenge President Obama next fall.
“We strongly encourage all Republican presidential candidates to participate."
The debate, which will be available in 99 million homes throughout America on the ION Television network, will be streamed on Newsmax.com, the nation’s leading conservative website.
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