From The Washington Examiner:
Rick Santorum just might get his wish to debate Newt Gingrich head-to-head again before the Iowa caucuses next month.
Santorum and Gingrich are currently the only confirmed participants in the Donald Trump-moderated debate on ION Television December 27.
Santorum said he was excited about the possibility of the debate turning into a two-man show.
“I think it’s great,” Santorum said. “I’d love a head-to-head with Newt Gingrich. I’d like to head-to-head with anybody in the field. I think those are the best debates.”
Republican stategist Mark McKinnon:
And this Trump debate is proof the inmates have taken over the asylum.
From The New York Times:
Republican strategists on Monday bemoaned the prospect of a presidential debate hosted by Donald J. Trump even as Newt Gingrich, surging in recent polls, made a pilgrimage to see Mr. Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star.
Veteran Republican operatives are increasingly agonizing over the image of a party whose contenders have been beset by scandals, factual gaffes and a fickle electorate that seems unimpressed by the choices they have been given.
Now, Mr. Trump promises once again to inject his personality in the Republican race as he hosts a debate days before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. But leading Republican strategists and campaign officials on Monday condemned a Trump-moderated debate as a spectacle that would do more harm to the party than good.
The billionaire grabbed headlines this year by seizing on the “birther issue,” questioning whether President Obama was an American citizen, and Mr. Trump continues to dangle the idea of an independent bid for the White House next year.
Karl Rove, the former political adviser to President George W. Bush, railed against the idea of a debate hosted by Mr. Trump. In an appearance on Fox News on Monday, Mr. Rove called on Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, to put a stop to the debate.
“What the heck are the Republican candidates doing showing up at a debate with a guy who says, ‘I may run for president next year as an independent,’ ” Mr. Rove said. “I think the Republican national chairman ought to step in and say we strongly discourage every candidate from appearing.”
In an interview, Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for Mr. Bush, called Mr. Trump’s debate “an invitation to a circus” and urged the candidates to refuse to attend.
“Donald Trump risks making a carnival out of a serious presidential campaign,” Mr. Fleischer said. “I think this is an opportunity for a candidate to stand up. I don’t understand the fear of Donald Trump, politically. He doesn’t have a constituency or a following.”
Mark McKinnon, a strategist who worked for Mr. Bush, said in an e-mail that the proposed debate is “not good for the candidates. It’s not good for the party. It’s only good for Donald Trump.”
He said that news organizations have “wrested complete control over how and when the primary debates are conducted. And this Trump debate is proof the inmates have taken over the asylum.”