Romney will skip South Carolina debate; straw poll planned
May 2nd, 2011
01:45 PM ET
4 years ago

Romney will skip South Carolina debate; straw poll planned

(CNN) - An adviser to Mitt Romney said Monday that the former Massachusetts governor will skip Thursday's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina "because it's still early, the field is too unsettled and he's not yet an announced candidate."

Romney, considered an early frontrunner for the GOP nomination, has formed an exploratory committee, one of the criteria required to participate in the debate as determined by its sponsors, the South Carolina Republican Party and Fox News.

But Romney has been carefully maintaining a low profile in hopes of avoiding criticism from rivals.

Romney also poured a small fortune into South Carolina during his last presidential run, only to pull out at the last minute ahead of a disappointing fourth place finish in the 2008 primary. He has no staff in the early primary state, but performed well in a series of closely-watched GOP straw polls there last month.

"Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party have both been notified of this decision," Romney adviser Matt Rhodes said in a statement. "Gov. Romney is planning to visit South Carolina on May 21st and he looks forward to debating there closer to their primary."

Along with having an exploratory committee and reaching a 1 percent threshold in at least five national polls, candidates hoping to participate in the debate must pay the party's $25,000 filing fee to be on the primary ballot by Tuesday afternoon.

A source familiar with the debate planning said that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson are likely to be on the debate stage in Greenville. Herman Cain said later Monday that he will also attend.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich originally said he would attend but his advisers have since backed away from the commitment.

South Carolina GOP executive director Joel Sawyer would not comment on the lineup.

"The filing deadline is 5 p.m. on Tuesday," Sawyer said. "Most likely on Wednesday we will be releasing the final list of participants."

Also Monday, South Carolina GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd held a conference call with members of the party's executive committee to brief them on the debate as well as plans for the state party convention, being held Friday and Saturday in Columbia.

Each of the debate participants are being invited to speak at the Silver Elephant Banquet in Columbia on Friday night, the state party's biggest fundraiser of the year.

Party officials plan to conduct a 2012 presidential straw poll at the banquet on Friday evening, GOP sources told CNN. The results will be revealed during convention proceedings on Saturday.

Story updated at 3 p.m. EST to add Herman Cain's attendance.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • South Carolina
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Republican Robber Baron

    Fox News – Facts Don't Matter – is the official sponsor? Now THAT'S "fair and balanced isn't it. It's one thing for Fox to send $1 million to the RGA to bust unions and destroy public education...but to serve as official sponsor of Republican primary debates is making them official cheerleader of the GOP.

    May 2, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Romney is not helping his cause by postponing an announcement. I don't care how many extra dollars he may squeeze out of it, the public seeing a man who is shying away from the big decisions until it is "safe.". Not good.

    He's supposed to be the best that the Republican Party has and he's waffling. He's afraid of defending himself. He must view himself as weak and full of flaws that opponents can exploit.

    May 2, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. thomas

    CNN ,
    how many of Mitt Romney's children participated in active military service ?

    May 2, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. Anthony

    Rommey is a coward!!! LOL

    May 2, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. S. In California - Obama 2012

    An adviser to Mitt Romney said Monday that the former Massachusetts governor will skip Thursday's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina "because it's still early, the field is too unsettled and he's not yet an announced candidate."

    Translation: I'm REALLY scared now. I don't stand a chance. While I thought the economy would be a strong issue for me, I'm not so sure now. He may pull another surprise on the American public and AGAIN, I would lose millions of my own money not to mention my wife would kill me. For now, I'll just go on peddling lies.

    May 2, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. PalmReader

    "because it's still early, the field is too unsettled and he's not yet an announced candidate."

    Thus proving, once again, that Mitt Romney is all show and no substance. Good grief, the man's been running for President for, what is it, 6 years now? You'd think after all these years spent in hopeless campaign mode, he'd have his talking points memorized enough to spit out his debate answers in his sleep.

    May 2, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Looks like theTrump train is giving Mitt the jitters. Where is Snooki Palin? Selling Bin Laden shirts?

    May 2, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. Anthony

    Romney is a coward!!! LOL

    May 2, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Dave

    In other words, Romney doesn't want to answer any questions until he absolutely has to. He sure is courageous.

    May 2, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. C. Howe Yulikit

    Wow, that's the decisive leadership America needs. *rolls eyes* Our President just made one of the most courageous decisions in history and this wannabe is waffling over whether to participate in a South Carolina beauty pageant.

    May 2, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. john2397

    Do we think that now Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and his Republican goons and so called tea party gang will stop smearing campaign of OBAMA. He is much taller than what they think and with comparing them he looks like Himalaya. There is no need of any election for the President in 2012. Obama deserves many more than only one left term. Hope, the Republicans will save billions of dollars and time by not fielding their candidates, who are surely to LOSE!!!!!

    May 2, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. The Clear Thinking Independent

    The GOP can't beat the President on their "Democrats are Wimps" platform in the wake of crippling Predator drone attacks that he has launched on terrorists during his 1st 2 years in office. With the death of bin Laden by an American bullet fired on his watch, they have to acknowledge that he did what, for whatever reason, the last GOP president could not do.

    The don't want to run agains him. They have no business running against him. What's Romney going to say about Healthcare reform? He bragged about passing comprehensive mandatory healthcare in Mass. There is VIDEO & AUDIO tapes of it! He can't win. He can't beat Barack Obama.

    GOP contributors, save your money for 2016

    May 2, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. La, La, La

    The stupid Ken doll does not know what to do.

    May 2, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    My mother taught me not to trust people who talk and smile at the same time, with the exception for comedians.

    May 2, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. Tony Siers

    I have read that many GOP candidates have started the process of disbursing miss information for votes.
    I refer to gas prices. The government no matter which branch has control over gas prices. All candidates should be telling us the public. You want lower prices stop driving so much. We as consumers have more power over gas prices than any government agency. We also need to ask why is congress giving our money to an industry that is not on the verge of collapse or in the need of assistance but showing record profits.

    May 2, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. vet in texas

    Romney does not get my vote as that I don't believe in Jon Smith and his teachings, Mormanism is the western version of islam, multiple wives, their founder as a diety.......the comparisons are frightening. RomneyCare.........the gift that keeps on giving.

    May 2, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  17. TEE

    Skipping out it seems is what the serious repubs contenders for POTUS are doing.....After all this time you know whether you are going to run, someone explain why those that may have a serious shot at beating President Obama are scared to announce it....Stand up GOP, Man/Women Up.......as you love to say to President Obama, SHOW SUM LEADERSHIP !

    May 2, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    "But Romney has been carefully maintaining a low profile in hopes of avoiding criticism from rivals."

    He can't stand up to criticism from within his own party? Mitt sounds like a chicken poop to me!

    May 2, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Looks like there's a lot of "cut and run" going on with these Republicans. What's up with that?

    May 2, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Jimm

    No one is an announced candidate...so why not go and discuss the issues? That goes for all of them.

    May 2, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    CNN reported he WAS officially running about a month ago?!?!?!
    The only candidate now then is Trump , who today said he was running. Those words coming form his mouht made it official. Sorry, Donald, you don't get to say it and not have it "offical"
    OK Election watcher- now treat him like the canddiate he is.

    May 2, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  22. Fred Astair

    Poor Romney is letting us know he's scared to debate cause he's likely to put his foot in his mouth or be asked about Romneycare.

    May 2, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. T'sah from Virginia

    Skip, skip, skip and run scared
    "because it's still early... and there's great FEAR...
    ...that "...the field is too unsettled..." don't want to liquidate
    my chances of being a real glorifying and rewarding candidate." LMAO

    Please – and what will be different later – you will still be a LOSER!!

    May 2, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |