It's official. Here are the five candidates who will appear onstage in Greenville, South Carolina tomorrow.
Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico
Ron Paul, U.S. Representative from Texas
Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota
Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania
Santorum only just made the cut by making his exploratory committee official this week. Buddy Roemer, the former congressman and governor of Louisiana, did not make the cut. Neither did stunt candidate Fred Karger, a gay Republican who has worked in politics but never held office.
"All participants have averaged at least 1 percent in national polls," said party spokesman Joel Sawyer.
Gingrich and Romney are both punting on this debate despite having active exploratory committees; in Gingrich's case, he has financial obligations he's winding down before announcing. Jon Huntsman, who will be in the state this weekend, has only set up a PAC, as has Michele Bachmann. (She's also filed for re-election, raising eyebrows about whether she actually plans to run.) Mitch Daniels's effort is still in limbo, waiting for a "go" button; Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin are still on Fox News.
Who benefits from a debate like this? Pawlenty is the only candidate up there seen as a likely or possible nominee. Paul and Johnson are both in the race, essentially, to spread their messages; in Johnson's case, he'll get much more time from moderators than he would (or will) when the race fills out. Santorum and Cain get to vie for the trophy of Most Likely to Make a One-Liner That Dominates Second-Day Coverage.