Pawlenty commits to South Carolina debate

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said Friday that he would participate in the first scheduled presidential candidates debate next week, giving the South Carolina forum a needed boost.

In announcing his participation Pawlenty targeted President Obama, saying his poliices "have seriously jeopardized our nation's future and it's time for Republicans to show leadership and engage in the battle of ideas.

"We have to stand up for America every chance we get, and I for one look forward to doing that on Thursday in South Carolina," he said.

The debate, co-sponsored by the South Carolina Republican Party and Fox News Channel, is set for Greenville, South Carolina. But the criteria established for the event threatened to keep it devoid of participants. Candidates had to do the following to be included:

  • register a presidential exploratory committee or have announced a formal campaign for president
  • file all necessary paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission
  • file all necessary paperwork with the South Carolina Republican Party
  • pay all federal and South Carolina filing fees
  • meet all U.S. constitutional requirements
  • have garnered at least an average of 1% in five national polls based on most recent polling.

Pawlenty said in his statement Friday that he "will file the necessary papers and fees with the South Carolina Secretary of State next Tuesday because it's important that Republicans show up now, talk about their records, and begin the debate on how best we can defeat this President."

Mitt Romney, the putative GOP frontrunner at this very early stage, has not agreed yet to participate.

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