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As Candidates Decline, Will Trump Moderate A Debate? 'Don't Know,' He Says

The news that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) have decided not to participate in the Dec. 27 Republican presidential debate that businessman/TV personality/self-proclaimed potential independent presidential candidate Donald Trump is supposed to be moderating means just two GOP contenders would be left for the event:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.).

On Fox Business Network's Imus in the Morning show today, Trump was asked if the event's still going to happen. "I don't know. I have to look into it," he said. According to Trump, the candidates are nervous about appearing with him because he still might run for the White House as an independent after his next season of The Celebrity Apprentice wraps up on May 16.

He also said he's disappointed in Bachmann for saying she won't be taking part in the debate. Trump said he's met with her four times, that she has sought his advice and that Bachmann has speculated about him being her vice president. "After all of that," he wondered, where's her loyalty? "How do you do that?"

Santorum has also weighed in on the decisions by most of his peers to steer clear of the Trump/NewsMax debate.

"Many of my opponents jockeyed to be the first to fly up to New York and use Donald Trump for a photo op and no doubt try and secure an endorsement," he says in a statement posted on his campaign's website. "But when Donald wants to moderate a debate – they refuse to attend. That's what's so wrong with politics today – hypocrisy."

Our friend Frank James is following the 2012 campaign over at It's All Politics.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.