04/28/2011 04:19 pm ET Updated Jun 28, 2011

Newt Gingrich May Not Qualify For First GOP Debate Of 2012 Campaign

As you may have heard, the South Carolina GOP is having a difficult time getting people to participate in its May 5 debate. So far, its only confirmed the participation of Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Buddy Roemer. Enough for a brief, but competitive foosball tournament! Fred Karger has been invited, but his hopes have been waylaid by the organizers' criteria for participation (the most stringent being that “one must have garnered at least an average of 1 percent in five national polls based on most recent polling.” And now, Newt Gingrich is confirming that he won't be a participant either.

Per Beth Reinhard at National Journal's Hotline OnCall:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is unlikely to qualify for the May 5 Republican primary debate in South Carolina, his spokesman said Thursday.

The state party billed Gingrich weeks ago as one of the expected participants in the first debate of the 2012 campaign, along with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (R).

However, the party is requiring that participants have launched presidential campaigns or at least exploratory committees by Tuesday. Gingrich is still "testing the waters,'' which means he does not have to disclose donors to the Federal Elections Commission.

Yes, Gingrich is apparently still ensnared by the "business entanglements" that turned his presumed March announcement that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee into an announcement that promised further announcements may or may not happen in the future, perhaps, about explorations to think about pondering making a run for the White House, Insh'allah. The only bit of speculation we have as to whether Gingrich will make a decision comes in the form of a tweet from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Tom Fitzgerald, who says: "Newt Gingrich at Union League in Phila. Tells reporters to watch twitter and Facebook next week for Pres decision."

We'll believe it when we see it, obviously. Regardless, it looks like this South Carolina debate will be Newt-less, as well as without Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels and a host of other maybe-wannabe presidents. But, look: Why is anyone having a GOP primary debate in May of 2011 again?

Gingrich Unlikely To Participate In S.C. Debate [Hotline OnCall @ NJ]

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