Gingrich joins other top-tier contenders, such as Mitt Romney, in bypassing the debate, which is being sponsored by the South Carolina GOP and Fox News. Gingrich has indicated that an announcement concerning his candidacy will be made imminently, most likely within the next two weeks.
Those likely to attend the debate include former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, businessman Herman Cain, former Senator Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and potentially former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.
With many of the top-tier candidates not attending, the debate may still provide an opportunity for participants in a state carried by every GOP presidential nominee since Lee Atwater maneuvered to move up South Carolina’s primary in 1980.
For instance, Paul will get a chance to reintroduce himself to a national audience. Pawlenty will have an opportunity to establish himself. And Cain, who has been received very well in early events and forums, will have an opportunity to introduce himself on a national stage.