BEAUFORT, S.C.--Rick Perry's campaign announced Thursday that it will “respectfully decline” to participate in a debate moderated by Donald Trump this month, adding Perry to the growing list of Republican presidential candidates who have turned down invitations from the flamboyant real-estate magnate.
Later on Thursday, Michelle Bachmann's campaign also announced that it will not participate in the debate, either.
The Texas governor cited the demands of his campaign schedule and the already-crowded field of debates in declining the Dec. 27 event, hosted by Newsmax and scheduled just days before the first-in-the-nation caucuses in Iowa. Other GOP primary candidates who have declined are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
“Traditional retail campaigning in the days and weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus is the Perry campaign’s top priority," Perry aide Ray Sullivan said in a statement. “In the coming weeks, Governor 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."
The governor met with the business mogul earlier this fall seeking his endorsement.
Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart, in a one-sentence statement, did not provide a reason for the Minnesota congresswoman's decision. But Bachmann had said there were a number of concerns her team has with the debate, including whether or not Trump will present his bias toward the “one candidate” he’s indicated he’s leaning toward.
Bachmann's decision is noteworthy because she has met with Trump four times -- most recently in mid-November -- to try to snag his endorsement.