Donald Trump is just as much of a lightning rod as ever, only this time it's fellow Republicans who are piling on.
Leaders of the GOP establishment are upset because Trump is planning to moderate a Republican presidential debate on December 27 in Iowa. That's the week before the presidential nominating caucuses there, and the event is likely to draw lots of attention if it proceeds as Trump has planned.
But there is considerable backlash. Two candidates--Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah--refuse to participate, questioning Trump's credentials for hosting the encounter. Other GOP leaders are deriding the event as an ego trip for the billionaire businessman and reality-TV host that could turn into a massive self-promotion for Trump and his new book, "Time to Get Tough."
Karl Rove, former political adviser to President George W. Bush, told Fox News that it's inappropriate for Trump to moderate the event because he has raised the prospect of running for president next year as an independent, not as a Republican. Rove says Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus "ought to step in and say we strongly discourage every candidate from appearing." Priebus says that's not his role and insists that every candidate needs to make that decision for himself or herself.
Conservative columnist George Will urged the GOP candidates to "do something presidential. Stand up and say, 'We're not going to be hijacked and participate in this.'"
Last night, Trump fired back. He told Fox News that he is pleased neither Paul nor Huntsman will participate in his debate because he only wants candidates who have a real chance of winning. Trump predicted that the December 27 debate will "get great ratings" because he is "a ratings machine."
It's unclear who will participate beyond former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, both of whom have agreed to show up. But Trump shows no sign of cancelling.