Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
(R), the presumed GOP front-runner, will be absent from the debate. A Romney aide said
earlier this week that Romney will not be participating "because it's still early, the field is too unsettled and he's not yet an announced candidate." Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
, also will not be there, nor will Rep. Michele Bachmann
(R-Minn.). Gingrich is likely to announce his presidential campaign next week, while Bachmann has indicated she will make her decision sometime next month. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman
(R), who recently returned from China after serving as Ambassador, and has filed paperwork to form a federal political action committee to allow him to begin raising money, is also considering running and will not be at the debate, although he will be in the state this weekend to give a commencement address at the University of South Carolina.
The slow start
to the presidential race caused an NBC News/Politico
debate that was originally slated for May to be pushed to September. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
(R) is still mulling a bid, as is Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels
(R). Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
(R) has also not ruled out a run.