- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — Real estate mogul Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is pulling out of a Republican presidential debate he had agreed to moderate in Iowa.

Mr. Trump announced he was stepping back in order to preserve the option of running for president in case he’s not satisfied that the eventual Republican nominee can defeat President Obama. The conservative website Newsmax was to host the debate Dec. 27.

But the debate has been in jeopardy ever since former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signaled he would not participate. Other candidates also bowed out. Only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum agreed to take part.

Many Republican strategists warned that a presidential debate moderated by Mr. Trump, star of “Celebrity Apprentice,” would create a circuslike atmosphere that might diminish the candidates vying to challenge Mr. Obama.

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