Donald Trump's GOP Debate: Rick Perry Becomes Fourth Candidate Who Won't Participate

Donald Trump Rick Perry Split - H 2011
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Donald Trump Rick Perry Split - H 2011

The presidential hopeful says he will be too busy to take part, while several prominent Republicans have opined that the event will be a media circus and distract from important issues.

Yet another high-profile GOP presidential candidate has opted not to take part in the upcoming Republican debate being moderated by Donald Trump.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has joined former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in announcing their intentions to skip the Dec. 27 event in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Perry's campaign said in a statement that he would be too busy meeting with Iowa voters before the Jan. 3 caucuses.

"Traditional retail campaigning in the days and weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus is the Perry campaign's top priority," the statement said, as reported by USA Today.

Perry, who has visited Trump at his New York office, "respects" the real estate mogul and Celebrity Apprentice star as well as "the folks at Newsmax," which is hosting the debate, airing on Ion.

The news comes two days after Romney said he would not be able to take part because he will be too busy campaigning.

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Several prominent Republicans have reportedly urged candidates to skip the event. They predict it will be a media circus and a distraction from important issues.

Huntsman said he believes the debate is just a publicity stunt.

"This isn't about ratings for Donald Trump; this is about jobs for the American people," Huntsman told CNBC.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are the only two candidates to confirm their participation in the debate so far.

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Other candidates including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have yet to announce their decision. Earlier this week, she expressed concerns about Trump's objectivity, telling CBS' Early Show that "he said he's already learning towards a candidate."

Trump made headlines earlier this year when he suggested that President Barack Obama is foreign-born while saying that he might run for president himself. In May, he announced he would not be running, saying: "Business is my greatest passion, and I am not ready to leave the private sector."

Still, he has not ruled out a presidential bid as a third-party candidate.