Reality TV star and property mogul Donald Trump said today he will not moderate a planned debate among Republican presidential hopefuls after all but two candidates declined to attend.
"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.''
Some Republicans worried the showboating Trump, star of NBC's The Apprentice program where he is known for his catch phrase "You're fired" could make the event all about him.
Some conservative commentators may be laying the groundwork for backing Texas congressman Ron Paul as a third party candidate if the Republicans nominate Newt Gingrich to face Democratic President Barack Obama.
msnbc host Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe and conservative radio show host Glenn Beck have both spoken favorably this week about a possible Paul general election candidacy, calling Gingrich a "big government" conservative.
Meantime, President Obama says his re-election is "not a slam dunk" and he is imploring donors to "stick with us."
The president says that despite his efforts to turn around the economy, bail out the auto industry, end the war in Iraq and overhaul health care, the state of the economy has created public skepticism.
"All those things don't mean that much to somebody who's still out of work right now...or whose house is still underwater by $100,000," he said to campaign donors today at a Washington hotel.