Eight Republicans vying for support from tea party activists will face off later this month in a CNN presidential debate cosponsored by the Tea Party Express and tea party organizations representing every state in the nation.
The “Tea Party Republican Debate” will take place Sept. 12th in Tampa, Florida – the host city for the 2012 Republican National Convention. Florida is also a key state in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will moderate the debate, which will feature questions from guests inside the hall as well as from people attending viewing parties around the country. It will be broadcast live nationally on CNN, CNN en Español and CNN Radio, around the world on CNN International, CNN en Español and streamed on CNN.com.
Since CNN’s June 13th presidential debate in New Hampshire, the Republican primary field has changed with one major candidate withdrawing from the race, while another formally declared his candidacy.
Last month, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he would run for the GOP nomination, joining Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, businessman Herman Cain, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman on stage in Tampa.
CNN crafted objective criteria – modeled after criteria the network used at the June debate – to determine who would be eligible to participate in the Sept. 12th debate. Participants needed to achieve a minimum 2 percent threshold in an average of national primary polls to be invited to the debate.
The full criteria can be found here.
Invitations were extended to the eight Republicans who will appear on stage in Tampa as well as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Giuliani declined the debate invitation, while a Palin representative has yet to respond to it. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was also invited to the debate, but he dropped out of the race last month after a disappointing showing in the Iowa Republican straw poll.