Donald Trump Defends G.O.P. Debate Moderation, Slams 'Joke' Candidates on 'Today' (Video)
Despite his clear interest, there's no chance of Donald Trump showing up on a presidential ballot anytime soon. The Equal Time rule's conflict with his obligation to The Apprentice forced him to drop out of the 2012 race nearly two years before the election.
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But with the recent announcement that he'll moderate a December G.O.P. debate for conservative website Newsmax Media, Trump has reentered the fray.
He appeared on Monday's Today, and when asked by Matt Lauer if he was concerned with candidates Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman's decisions to not appear, Trump blew off the hopefuls.
"I think most candidates are going to join," he said. "And I think those two candidates have zero chance of being elected so it makes no difference... I think that they are joke candidates... Frankly, it gives more air time to those with a chance of being elected."
Paul had said the celebrity-hosted debate was "beneath the office of the presidency," while Huntsman's campaign echoed similar sentiments. Trump explained that he thinks the debate will be quite important -- and that he was asked to do it by his party.
"A lot of the top Republicans asked me to do the debate," he told Lauer. "I think it will get tremendous ratings. Frankly, I have a lot of people -- millions of people -- who follow me because they're tired of seeing this country -- our great country, the United States -- getting ripped off."
Trump pointed to his reported lead in the polls at the time of his May 2011 bowing out of the race as reason for his involvement in the debate.
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As for who he sees likely to win the party nod in 2012, Trump remained mum, noting only that he's surprised by Mitt Romney's apparent inability to click in the polls.
"I'm actually a little surprised," he said. "He doesn't get traction."
Watch the complete interview below: