GOP’s First Presidential Debate Will Feature a Small Lineup

Republican frontrunners will be MIA.

Posted: 05/04/2011 02:45 PM EDT
Presidental Debate

Businessman Herman Cain is a definite yes for the GOP's first presidential primary debate, scheduled to take place in South Carolina on Thursday. The event is being co-sponsored by the South Carolina Republican Party and Fox News.


The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO says he looks forward to sharing his “common-sense solutions for America” and his private-sector experience balancing budgets and creating jobs. He’ll be sharing the stage with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Notice anything wrong with that list?


Missing are the big-name rivals more likely to succeed in their bid for the Republican presidential nomination, including former governors Mitt Romney (Massachusetts) and Mike Huckabee (Arkansas), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Georgia) and Tea Party sweethearts Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minnesota) and former vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.


“We give great credit to all of these candidates for being willing to stand before a national audience and lay out their plans and ideas for the future of this country,” said South Carolina Republican Party chair Karen Floyd. “We are looking forward to a great debate among these presidential hopefuls.”


Fox News had set strict requirements for participating in the debate, including forming a presidential exploratory committee, registering at least 1 percent in five national polls and paying a $25,000 fee to the South Carolina GOP to be on the state’s primary ballot.


(Photo:Brian Snyder/Landov)