ABC News’ Michael Falcone, Elizabeth Hartfield and Jen Wlach report:
Mark your calendar. On Dec. 27 Donald Trump will moderate a debate with the GOP candidates in Des Moines, just six days before the Jan. 3 caucuses.
The debate will be produced by the conservative news website Newsmax.com and broadcast on the cable network, Ion TV. A source close to Trump confirmed to ABC News the real estate mogul’s role as a moderator of the event.
In an interview Steve Coz, editorial director of Newsmax, said he was “trying to figure out a way to make the Newsmax debate very powerful,” which is how the idea of involving Trump originated.
Coz said they have been getting “positive responses” from several of the campaigns. The debate will be held at the Hoyt Sherman theater in Des Moines. More details will be released next week.
Coz added that Trump will be joined at the moderator’s table by other “people of note,” including prominent political figures. The debate will also be live-streamed on Newsmax.com.
After a brief flirtation with a presidential run of his own, Trump has proven to be a powerful ally to candidates in the GOP field in this cycle. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have all met privately with Trump since announcing their candidacies. Newt Gingrich is set to meet with him on Monday, Dec. 5.
At least one candidate has already said “no” to the December 27 event.
“We have declined to participate in the ‘Presidential Apprentice’ Debate with The Donald,” Tim Miller, a spokesman for candidate Jon Huntsman said in a statement. “The Republican Party deserves a serious discussion of the issues so voters can choose a leader they trust to defeat President Obama and turn our economy around. We are confident that leader will be Jon Huntsman.”
It will be the last of three debates in Iowa during the month of December, including an ABC News-Des Moines Register-Iowa Republican Party debate on Dec. 10.