Donald Trump to moderate GOP debate

Donald Trump
David Becker/ Getty Images

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Real estate mogul and television personality Donald Trump is set to moderate a Republican presidential debate, his spokesman confirmed to Hotsheet.

Trump -- who told Hotsheet this week he's still considering his own presidential bid -- will be moderating the December 27 debate hosted by conservative news outlet Newsmax and cable network Ion Television. The debate will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, one week before the state's presidential caucuses.

Newsmax extended invitations to the Republican candidates just this afternoon, and the online news magazine had yet to publicly announce the debate when the New York Times broke the news today.

Steve Coz, editorial director of Newsmax Media, told Hotsheet that Newsmax has already received verbal confirmations of attendance from a few candidates' campaigns, but he declined to name which ones. At least one candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, has said he won't attend the debate. "We look forward to watching Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich suck up to Trump with a big bowl of popcorn," Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller said in a statement.

Coz explained that Newsmax asked Trump to host the debate because "he's a very well known, very influential person," and nearly "all the Republican candidates have gone to Donald for advice, so we thought he was the perfect moderator."

Trump told Hotsheet this week he has "very good relationships with all of" the candidates. Michele Bachmann has met with him as many as three times.

Newsmax is a well-trafficked conservative site, and Ion Television reaches over 99 million homes.

"We think between Donald's household name, Newsmax's huge pull with the politically conservative audience in America and Ion's phenomenal reach, we're going to have the largest audience a debate's had in a while," Coz said.

The debate will take place from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET at the Hoyt Sherman Place Theater in Des Moines.

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