Huntsman: Trump debate 'is a joke'

Jon Huntsman dismissed the upcoming GOP debate moderated by real estate mogul Donald Trump as a "joke" on Tuesday. 

"This is not about ratings for Donald Trump, this is about jobs for the American people. This is a serious debate that we ought to be having here in the United States," said Huntsman on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday. "I believe that the presidency of the United States of America is beyond reality shows … this is a joke."

The former Utah governor and the celebrity businessman have attacked one another through the media since Huntsman declined to participate in the debate.

Aside from Huntsman, Republican contender Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) announced last week that he would not take part in the debate hosted by the conservative Newsmax.

Trump blasted Paul and Huntsman as “joke candidates” on the "Today" show Monday and said he doesn't believe either has a chance of winning the Republican nomination.

Huntsman has been at the bottom of most polls but hopes to have a strong showing in the New Hampshire primary next month.

Fellow candidates former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) have agreed to participate. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said Tuesday on CBS's “The Early Show” that her campaign is "still in the process of looking at" the upcoming debate.

Trump, the host of NBC's reality show "The Apprentice," considered entering the primary field himself earlier this year, but ruled out a bid in May, citing a passion for business over politics. Since getting out of the race, Trump has maintained a strong presence in the primary process, meeting privately with many of the candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

Huntsman also slammed Romney, who has not yet made public his decision on whether to participate in the Trump-moderated debate, for flip-flopping on issues.

"Well, as usual, Mr. Romney can't make a decision. He's weighing both sides and he may flip-flop on this one as well," Huntsman said.