(CNN) – Several Republicans with presidential aspirations will address the South Carolina GOP's annual Silver Elephant Banquet in Columbia on May 6, a source familiar with the plans told CNN.
The dinner, which takes place every year at the South Carolina Republican Party Convention, is the party's biggest fundraising event of the year and the keynote address is usually offered to a possible White House contender or one of the party's rising stars looking to make inroads in the early primary state.
But with a clutch of potential 2012 presidential candidates already slated to appear in South Carolina on May 5 for a presidential debate in Greenville, state party officials decided to hold a presidential forum at the banquet and offer speaking slots to all of the debate participants instead of giving the spotlight to just one high-profile Republican.
"Though this is certainly a non-traditional approach to our banquet, we thought this to be a very fitting way to introduce our top donors and top activists to our field of contenders," South Carolina GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd said in a statement to CNN.
The potential candidates who have so far agreed to appear at the debate, which is sponsored by Fox News and the South Carolina GOP, are former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has said he will take part in the debate if he enters the race by May 5. He plans to make an announcement about the race by the end of April.
Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, another potential GOP candidate, will be in Columbia on May 7 delivering a commencement address at the University of South Carolina but is not likely to attend the state GOP convention.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann told CNN last weekend that it might be "premature" for her to commit to the debate without having an exploratory committee, one of the criteria for debate participants.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has formed an exploratory committee but has not revealed his debate plans.