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Mitt Romney will not participate in the planned Dec. 27 Newsmax presidential debate to be moderated by Donald Trump.

According to CNN, Romney told reporters that “we’ve had requests for quite a few debates, we decided on two in December. The 10th and 15th and we’re not adding any others in December. We’ll look at January’s request. I think we have ten requests for January debates. We’ll probably do two or maybe three in January.”

Romney’s rejection of the debate is a much softer decline than that of Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul, who said that they would not participate because it smacked of being more of a circus than a serious forum. Other conservative figures, like Charles Krauthammer and Ari Fleischer, have questioned the wisdom of candidates appearing at such a debate, given that Trump is a showman, not a newsman.

So far only Newt Gingrich has agreed to participate. But Romney’s rejection is a blow to plans to elevate this debate to the level of those organized by cable news channels.

Update: Rick Santorum is in, and Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are still undecided. Trump, in a statement to Politico, said of Romney’s decision not to participate, “It would seem logical to me that if I was substantially behind in the polls, especially in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, I would be participating in the debate. But I can also understand why Gov. Romney decided not to do it.”