Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he is bowing out as the moderator for the GOP debate in Iowa on Dec. 27, but said he would still consider running for president if the right Republican candidate wasn't nominated.
I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate, the real estate mogul and reality TV star said in a statement to Fox News on Dec. 13.
The announcement comes just eleven days after Trump announced his plan to team up with Newsmax, the conservative magazine, to moderate the GOP debate.
Trump Slammed for Debate Plans
Since his initial announcement, all Republican candidates but Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have dropped out of the debate in protest, with Texas Rep. Ron Paul being the most vocal opponent to a Trump debate.
Though Paul went after Trump, calling him a clown-like figure whose presence would be beneath the office of the presidency, Paul's fellow GOP candidates expressed greater concern over Trump's record as a sometime presidential nominee.
Many higher-ups in the Republican Party, Karl Rove among them, expressed concern over Donald Trump's politics coloring the debate, with the businessman either favoring those he planned to endorse or cutting into his opponents just before his own presidential bid.
You know, he could do a lot of damage to somebody, Rove told Greta van Susteren. I suspect it's not going to be the candidate he's leaning toward.
'I am not willing to give up my right to run.'
Following his announcement, some hope that Donald Trump's withdrawal from the debate is a sign he's giving up the idea of running as a third-party candidate.
For those hoping this was the beginning of an ignominious fall from fame for Trump, however, prepare to be disappointed: The Donald won't be a GOP debate moderator precisely because he's still toying with the idea of running for the presidency.
It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, Trump said. 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's reasoning gives him a chance to save face, claiming that his desire to avoid conflicts of interest within the Republican Party and not a public outcry is the reason for him stepping down as the GOP debate moderator.
Trump closed his statement withdrawing from the GOP debate by insisting on his right to leave all my options open.
The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington, Donald Trump said in his statement. I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!