Gingrich Unlikely To Participate In S.C. Debate
American Solutions- Election Night with Newt and Callista Gingrich
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is unlikely to qualify for the May 5 Republican primary debate in South Carolina, his spokesman said Thursday.
The state party billed Gingrich weeks ago as one of the expected participants in the first debate of the 2012 campaign, along with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (R).
However, the party is requiring that participants have launched presidential campaigns or at least exploratory committees by Tuesday. Gingrich is still "testing the waters,'' which means he does not have to disclose donors to the Federal Elections Commission.
"It's becoming increasingly clear that we're not going to make the deadline,'' said Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler. "We had always planned to be in the debate and want to be in the debate, but I don't think we will.''
Tyler explained that Gingrich has "business entanglements'' and "contractual obligations'' that legally prevent him from immediately creating an exploratory campaign. He added that Republicans shouldn't see Gingrich's absence as a sign that he is leaning against a presidential bid.
"I think people already understand that he's serious,'' he said.
With Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) taking himself out of the race last week, the crop of debate contenders is quickly winnowing. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) have not announced yet whether they will participate.
"Rep. Bachmann told us that she is considering participating, so I would say she's 50/50 at this moment,'' said Michael Clemente, Vice President of FOX News. "Gov. Romney's staff said they have not made a decision yet.''
Other potential candidates, including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), Amb. To China Jon Huntsman, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), are also not planning to attend the debate.