became the first Republican candidate to snub a planned
candidates' debate moderated by
, with his campaign saying Republicans deserve "a serious discussion of the issues."
With that jab at what is already being called "'The Apprentice' Debate," Huntsman continued an effort to present himself as a serious-minded alternative in the GOP race.
To that end, Huntsman's campaign said in the same press release that the former Utah governor would accept an invitation from
to participate in a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate in New Hampshire this month.
"We look forward to discussing the issues that matter to the American people in a serious, substantive debate with Speaker Gingrich later this month," spokesman Tim Miller said, adding that it was "telling" that
was declining such a forum.
Of course, there is little reason for Huntsman to take part in the Trump-led debate beyond any concerns about the circus atmosphere. It's scheduled to be held in Iowa one week before the state's caucuses, which Huntsman is not contesting.
Huntsman also is one of the few Republicans who has not trekked to the real estate mogul's
offices for a one-on-one meeting. His campaign attacked Romney in September when he went to kiss The Donald's ring. That, in turn, drew a counterattack from Trump via Twitter, that Huntsman "has zero chance of getting the nomination. Whoever said I wanted to meet him?"
Of course Huntsman has engaged in some campaign silliness of his own, including a recent cameo on