Trump: Mitt Romney wants my endorsement for nomination ‘badly’

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump campaign loses new political director Ryan seeks to put stamp on GOP in Trump era Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE said he was "surprised" that Mitt Romney was declining an invitation to appear in the presidential debate he will be moderating later this month, and said the GOP hopeful had courted his support.

"I'm surprised Mitt Romney said no, he said he's very busy, he's so busy," Trump said during an interview Wednesday morning on MSNBC.

"Frankly I'm surprised, because he really wants my endorsement, he wants it badly," Trump continued.

Trump suggested that the decision to skip the debate was a poor strategic one by Romney, who has slipped behind Newt Gingrich in national polls of the Republican field. 

"If you're down in the polls, which respectfully he is down in the poll very substantially in a lot of ways, I would think you'd want to be in a debate like this," Trump said.

As of now, only two candidates have agreed to attend the debate — Gingrich and Rick Santorum. In addition to Romney, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman have definitively said they will not attend.

But Trump, in his trademark self-promotional style, noted that "I get good ratings" and said the debate has already gotten an unprecedented amount of media coverage.

"It's simply getting a lot of press, I've never seen anything like it," Trump said. "If I were Mitt, I'd think I'd want to be on, it's a chance to make a statement."

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