Ron Paul makes his case with hard-hitting ads
Huntsman says he'll catch on after 'silly season'

Donald Trump bows out as GOP debate moderator

By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

Updated 4:09 p.m. ET

Donald Trump says he's withdrawing as moderator of a GOP presidential debate in Iowa.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were the only Republican candidates who agreed to the Dec. 27 debate, sponsored by the conservative website Newsmax.

The rest of the GOP field bowed out, with Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman making clear they believe the debate would be a spectacle with Trump as moderator.

"I believe this would not only have been the most watched debate, but also the most substantive and interesting debate," Trump said in a statement.

Trump said he's still not ruling out the possibility of running for president as an independent. He said he's stepping aside as moderator of the debate to avoid any conflict of interest.

"It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, 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 said.

Steve Coz, editorial director for Newsmax, said the company is "disappointed" by Trump's decision but respects his wishes. The statement on the Newsmax site doesn't give any indication of what's next.

Ron Paul makes his case with hard-hitting ads
Huntsman says he'll catch on after 'silly season'
To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to
USA TODAY is now using Facebook Comments on our stories and blog posts to provide an enhanced user experience. To post a comment, log into Facebook and then "Add" your comment. To report spam or abuse, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find out more, read the FAQ and Conversation Guidelines