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Slow Start Pushes Debate To September

Here's the latest sign the GOP presidential race is off to a slower start than many had originally anticipated: a debate scheduled to honor Ronald Reagan's centennial birthday sponsored by NBC News/Politico that was originally scheduled for May has been moved back to September.

"Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May," said Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation executive director John Heubusch.

The next debate on the horizon to keep an eye on: a May 5 debate in Greenville being sponsored Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party. The debate is slated to take place just before the state party's "Silver Elephant," event (the party's main fundraiser) on May 6 and the election of a new state chair on May 7. So far, there are no changes in the schedule of the Greenville debate.

"We have a number of candidates who have expressed interest and who have given us backchannel commitments that they will be here. We're looking forward to having a very well attended debate on the 5th," said South Carolina GOP executive director Joel Sawyer.

The shifting of the NBC News/Politico debate at the Reagan Presidential Library to September 14 means that four debates are now slated to take place over a six-week period: there will be a debate in Ames, Iowa on August 11, followed debates in Tampa, Florida on September 5 and Orlando on September 22.

--Tim Alberta contributed to this post--

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