While many have dubbed real estate mogul Donald Trump as a kingmaker in the GOP presidential primaries, not all candidates are enamored with the one-time 2012 contender.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, citing both Trump's brief flirtation with a candidacy of his own and his celebrity status as reasons the move was "wildly inappropriate," has declined to participate in the debate.
"The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office's history and dignity," Jesse Benton, Ron Paul's national campaign chairman, said in a statement.
He added, "Mr. Trump's participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump's participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere."
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has also declined to attend the debate, saying in a statement that "the Republican party deserves a serious discussion of issues."
Trump slammed back, calling Paul and Huntsman inconsequential candidates. He said the presence of either at the debate would be "wasting the time of the viewers."
The debate will be held December 27.