Donald Trump announced today that he will no longer moderate a NewsMax debate in Iowa later this month. Nearly all the Republican candidates had declined the debate invitation. Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman made it clear they had a personal problem with ‘The Donald.’ Others expressed concerns Trump would ultimately decide to run as an independent. Today, Trump seemed to confirm those fears.

In a statement, Trump said:

"The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of The Apprentice, on May 20th, when the equal time provisions are no longer applicable to me, I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and that, unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend or be a part of the NewsMax debate scheduled for December 27, 2011. 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. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the NewsMax debate. The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington. I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!"

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were the only two candidates scheduled to appear in the debate. It is not clear who will moderate now; or if the debate will even take place.