When it was first announced that NBC News would team with Politico to host the first GOP presidential debate this year in May, some conservative bloggers reacted with fury, claiming that because of the network's connection with its corporate partner the left-of-center MSNBC brand that they should boycott the event. Some even questioned Politico's centrist standing (Hugh Hew
Well, those critics can continue to complain about the event if they like, since it won't happen now until September. This morning officials with the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, the site of the event, said that with so few candidates officially entered into the GOP contest, there were simply not enough announced human beings present to host the affair.
The Reagan Foundation prides itself on sponsoring world-class debates in which all of the major candidates in contention can make their point of view known to the widest possible audience, said John Heubusch, executive director for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May. The Reagan Foundations first Republican presidential primary debate will move to the fall, allowing enough time for the full slate of candidates to participate.
So far, the only official candidate in the race is Godfather's pizza chain owner Herman Cain. Last week former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced the formation of an exploratory committee, which is generally a precursor to the candidate's official announcement, and Pawlenty is considered a sure candidate to run as is Mitt Romney, who is actually out fundraising in California today.
But Newt Gingrich is still a big maybe. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has not decided what to do. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour does look like he's ready to get in, but who else is there after that?
Yes, there are all types of rumored candidates, but what about even the guys who ran in '08, like Mike Huckabee, winner of that year's Iowa caucus? He's been seen to be such a non-candidate that recently he spoke up to say he still could get into the race. Pundits speculate that he's content with his weekend Fox News program and isn't excited about trying to raise several hundred millions of dollars.
Sarah Palin? Although considered a long shot not that long ago, she has rekindled consideration based on her recent foreign trips to India and Israel. Then you've got Michelle Bachmann but we're talking serious candidates here.
You might recall the May of 2007 GOP debate at the Reagan Library. That's when Huckabee, as well as former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and former Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, all raised their hands when asked by Politico's Jim VandeHei if anybody on the dais did not believe in evolution. Watch:
The NBC News/Politico debate has been rescheduled to September 14.