CNN and state Republicans to host Jan. 26 GOP presidential debate in Jaxby John Kennedy | October 8th, 2011
CNN and the Florida Republican Party announced Saturday they will host a GOP presidential candidates’ debate Jan. 26 from Jacksonville — five days before the state’s primary.
It will mark the third debate originating from Florida, the nation’s biggest toss-up state in the presidential contest. Nationally televised debates featuring the Republican presidential field were held last month in Tampa and Orlando.
“CNN and RPOF are going to make this debate the best opportunity for our presidential candidates to continue their dialogue with Floridians,” said RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry. “With a date exactly halfway between the South Carolina and Florida primary dates, this debate will be the must-attend event for this great field of Republicans.”
Florida set Jan. 31 for its primary, drawing penalties from the Republican National Committee for placing its contest ahead of March 6. The party had been trying to reserve the earlier dates for states which traditionally held the nation’s first contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
But efforts to avoid a frontloaded primary season now look like a lost cause.
As expected, after Florida’s leapfrog last week, South Carolina set Jan. 21 for its primary. Nevada has since tapped Jan. 14, while Republican Party officials in Iowa are eyeing Jan. 3 or 5 for its caucuses. New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner says he is still considering scheduling that state’s first-in-the-nation primary for December, because of the early moves by other states.