CNN has canceled its March 1 presidential debate, after Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum all said that they would not be attending. From CNN:
“Without full participation of all four candidates, CNN will not move forward with the Super Tuesday debate. However, next week, CNN and the Arizona Republican Party will host all four leading contenders for the GOP nomination. That debate will be held in Mesa, Arizona on February 22 and will be moderated by CNN’s John King.”
Romney was the first candidate to cancel, citing scheduling conflicts. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul gave the official explanation in a statement:
“Governor Romney will be spending a lot of time campaigning in Georgia and Ohio ahead of Super Tuesday. With eight other states voting on March 6th, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate. We have participated in 20 debates, including 8 from CNN.”
Paul and Santorum quickly followed suit. Paul spokesman Jesse Benton told ABC’s Amy Walter that Paul would be skipping the debate to “focus on a bunch of western caucuses.” A source told ABC’s Michael Falcone that the Santorum would “likely skip.”
That left Newt Gingrich all alone and apparently ticked off. The debate, which was set to take place in Atlanta just a few days before Super Tuesday, could have given a much-needed bump to the floundering Gingrich campaign.
After Romney’s announcement, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond tweeted, “[Romney] spits in Georgia’s face and cancels Atlanta debate appearance.”
Later, he tweeted, “If [Romney] won’t stand up and debate his GOP competitors how will he face President Obama?”
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