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Romney, Santorum Skipping Georgia Debate (Updated)

2:37 PM, Feb 16, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Mitt Romney will not participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on March 1 in Georgia. "Governor Romney will be spending a lot of time campaigning in Georgia and Ohio ahead of Super Tuesday," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul emails. "With eight other states voting on March 6th, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate. We have participated in 20 debates, including 8 from CNN."

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

Jamie Dupree first reported Georgia GOP officials had heard that Romney planned to drop out of the debate.

Chris Kelleher, a spokesman for the Georgia Republican party, one of the debate's sponors, tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD the party did not hear from the Romney campaign directly. "His campaign contacted CNN this morning to say he would not be interested in the debate," Kelleher says.

Kelleher calls Romney's decision to skip the debate "interesting," and says that "a lot of folks in Georgia and Ohio," the largest Super Tuesday states, will be "disappointed." (The Ohio Republican party is also sponsoring the debate.)

Update: CBS's Lindsey Boerma reports that RIck Santorum has "no plans" of participating in the March 1 debate, either. An email to the Santorum campaign was not immediately returned.

Update II: CNN has now canceled the March 1 debate.

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