For those of you debate junkies breathlessly awaiting the March 1st debate in Georgia, sad news: it's been canceled. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul had all declined to participate, and without a full slate, the network was unwilling to go forward:
"Mitt Romney and Ron Paul told the Georgia Republican Party, Ohio Republican Party, and CNN Thursday that they will not participate in the March 1 Republican presidential primary debate," CNN said in a statement. "Without full participation of all four candidates, CNN will not move forward with the Super Tuesday debate."
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum also said he would not participate, leaving only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich committed to attending.
Still scheduled is a Feb. 22 debate sponsored by CNN and the Arizona Republican Party in Mesa, Ariz. It will be moderated by CNN's John King.
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, said, "With eight other states voting on March 6, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate. We have participated in 20 debates, including eight from CNN."
Santorum "has no plans of doing it right now," spokesman Hogan Gidley said of the March 1 debate.
Too bad for Newt Gingrich, the lone committed participant. He's been lagging in primaries of late -- most recently, he came in last in the Maine caucus. However, he's consistently done well in this season's rhetorical contests, and was likely hoping that the Georgia debate -- five days before Super Tuesday -- would give him a boost. I'd imagine he'd have even taken -- nay, relished -- a chance to have a one-on-one, 90-minute shouting match with John King. Ah well. He has one more chance to try and shine next Tuesday, February 22, when the twentieth and (mercifully) final Republican presidential debate takes place in Mesa, AZ.