Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest GOP candidate to decline an invitation to a Dec. 27 presidential debate hosted by Newsmax and moderated by real estate mogul Donald Trump.
"Gov. Perry has talked to Donald Trump in recent days and respects him and the folks at Newsmax very much," Perry communications director Ray Sullivan said today in a statement. "There are two debates in the next seven days.
"Traditional retail campaigning in the days and weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus is the Perry campaign's top priority. In the coming weeks, Perry will be in Iowa almost continually, meeting with real voters, doing town hall meetings and events and talking American jobs, faith and overhauling Washington, D.C., to Iowa voters. So we have respectfully declined the invitation for the December 27th debate."
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are the only two GOP candidates who have said they will participate in the event, slated to take place in Des Moines, Iowa, six days before the state's Jan. 3 caucus. Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman have each declined. Michele Bachmann is the only candidate who is still undecided. Earlier this week, she expressed concerns about Trump's objectivity.