Plenty of analysts, Republican strategists and operatives have observed that the party’s presidential nomination process has been hijacked by reality-TV values and inane distractions; sometimes they’re joking, sometimes dead serious.
And that talk was rampant well before businessman/reality star/self-regarding blowhard Donald Trump was signed Monday to host a debate Dec. 27 in Des Moines, an encounter sponsored by Newsmax Media and ION Television.
For some reason, Trump, a “birther” who questions whether President Obama was born in the U.S. as the constitution requires and who favors a 25 percent tariff on goods imported from China, has become a defining Republican figure in the 2012. One by one the contenders have trooped to Manhattan to meet with Trump and most would love his support.
Uber strategist Karl Rove said that a Trump-hosted debate is unseemly; Republican candidates risk looking unserious for playing along with him. “I just think it’s weird,” Rove said Monday night on FOX News.
Trump said Rove is “overrated” and not very intelligent.
So far Sen. Rick Santorum, who is far down in the polls and needs publicity, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have said they would participate in the debate. Newt said he had to say yes, "for the entertainment value" alone. He was so eager that he visited Trump in New York Monday, pronouncing him an "American icon."
Others are wary, and two have said no.
“I’m not going to kiss his ring and I’m not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy,” former Utah Gov. John Huntsman said, stiff-arming what would likely be the last nationally telecast debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. “This is exactly what is wrong with politics,” Huntsman said. “It’s show business over substance.”
Rep. Ron Paul, running second in Iowa in some influential polls, was the first to turn down the invitation. Trump’s participation is “beneath the office of the presidency,” Paul, of Texas, said on CNN’s State of the Union. He also noted that Trump, who has said he’s about to endorse one of the candidates and has flirted with a run himself, is biased, and added that the orange-haired one will “contributed to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.”
The Donald was not amused: “Few people take Ron Paul seriously and many of his views and presentation make him a clown like candidate.”
Oh, and The Donald has a new book coming out and he wants to get his reality show “The Apprentice” renewed on NBC. Those two things would have nothing to do with his jumping into the ring (pun intended) with the GOP candidates would it?