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Trump, Jon Huntsman Spar Over GOP Endorsement

Real estate investor Donald Trump insists he was approached for an endorsement by Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who has denied ever seeking the "Celebrity Apprentice" host's backing.

Donald Trump
Timothy Clary | AFP | Getty Images
Donald Trump

In a CNBC appearance Wednesday, Trump said Huntsman, like other other GOP hopefuls, has contacted him for support. Trump said the attempt happened during a Republican debate, a claim that could not be immediately verified.

"He called me, he wanted to come up. I didn't return his call — very rude of me...I was so busy," Trump said during a live interview. "During one of the debates he said, 'Unlike you people, I didn't go to see Donald Trump.' Well he called me to come up and see (me)."

Huntsman's camp denied their candidate ever sought Trump's endorsement.

"You'll be surprised to hear that Mr. Trump is fabricating that story," Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller said in an email. "Gov. Huntsman is focused on issues that matter to voters and turning our economy around, not presidential apprentice."

The latter remark is a reference to Trump's own, brief run at the presidency during which he was among the leaders for the nomination, according to opinion polls.

Since leaving the race to focus on his show, which airs on CNBC.com-parent NBC Universal, Trump says he has been courted by the presidential field. But he has not made an endorsement.

In the event he does, Huntsman is unlikely to be among the contenders.

"I like Huntsman very much, but it's just not going to happen," Trump said in reference to the Utah governor's chances of securing the GOP nomination.

The statements continue a verbal battle between Huntsman and Trump that began in late September and has been conducted primarily over Twitter, focusing on whether Huntsman, who is not polling above 3 percent in any of the major national polls, has sought Trump's help.

"Now he's a Mormon and Mormons never lie," Trump said. "I'm sure if he was asked would admit that he called me to come up and see me."