CNN's first debate of the 2012 election season--June 13 at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire--is a week away.
And unlike the two GOP debates that had been scheduled for last month--including the NBC/Politico Republican presidential debate that was moved to September--the lineup for this one is relatively full: Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Texas Representative Ron Paul, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who officially announced his candidacy on Monday, have accepted invitations to appear.
There are, however, a couple names noticeably absent for the first New Hampshire debate of the 2012 election cycle: Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani. Debate organizers invited the former Alaska governor--who just swept through the state on her bus tour--together with the former New York mayor. Giuliani, who is reportedly mulling a 2012 bid, declined the invitation; Palin did not officially respond, either. But during her tour of the state last week, she told a local television station: "I don't think I'm going to be there. Thank you for asking though."
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Donald Trump were also extended invitations, CNN said.
Daniels, Huckabee and Trump publicly announced their intentions not to run for president, while Huntsman declined the invitation, CNN said.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who appeared at the first GOP debate last month, was not invited by CNN because the network said Johnson did not meet a minimum 2 percent threshold in either national or New Hampshire primary polls. (Johnson's campaign manager Ron Nielson said, "It appears that Gary Johnson's exclusion was based on some mysterious polling arithmetic.")
CNN's John King will moderate the two-hour debate beginning at 8 p.m. (ET).
The now-rescheduled NBC News/Politico debate--sponsored by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation--was touted as the first of the 2012 season when it was announced last November, but suffered from a lack of candidates.
"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," John Heubusch, the Reagan Foundation's executive director, said in March. "The Reagan Foundation's first Republican presidential primary debate will move to the fall, allowing enough time for the full slate of candidates to participate."
Fox News went ahead with its Republican debate in Greenville, South Carolina on May 5, despite a lack of firepower.
(Image via CNN)