Anyone looking for visual evidence that the race to secure the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 isn’t exactly off to a blistering start may want to turn their television sets to Fox News next Thursday.
The cable news network is teaming up with the South Carolina Republican Party to host a primary debate that night, but so far it looks as if there is no danger of organizers running out of room on the stage.
As the Los Angeles Times reports:
That’s because few of the likely contenders qualify to participate under the strict criteria laid out by the cable news network. Fox News acknowledged as much, last week quietly moving the deadline for candidates to qualify from April 29 to May 3.
According to the participation criteria, any contender wanting to take part needs to have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and also have averaged at least 1 percent in five recent national polls, among other requirements.
The state party had said that they expected former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to attend—but so far only Roemer and Pawlenty have filed their FEC paperwork, according to the paper.*
Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has filed the necessary paperwork but hasn’t indicated he plans to participate in the debate.
*Correction, April 26, 2011: The original post mistakenly referred to Tim Pawlenty as the former governor of Pennsylvania. He is the former governor of Minnesota.