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With the first official debate of the 2012 Presidential Election occurring tomorrow in South Carolina, we finally have some news out on just who is confirmed to be participating. The big winner in this list? Tim Pawlenty of course. I’d consider him the main top tier candidate who needs better name recognition and will take this opportunity to garner it. Ron Paul will also no doubt capitalize on the short attendee list to build his brand.

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The air time is 9PM Eastern time on Thursday, May 5th on the Fox News Channel.

So far the list is as follows:

Herman Cain
Gary Johnson
Ron Paul
Tim Pawlenty
Rick Santorum

Report from Fox News:

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who plans to attend the debate, said, “I hope all of the serious or even potential candidates are going to get in this debate because, look, this is a president who’s got his challenges, but he’s going to raise a billion dollars; he’s a very gifted campaigner and we’ve got to start taking the case to the American people why he should be fired.”

Others expected to participate include former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who’s 2008 run sparked the modern Tea Party movement, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and businessman Herman Cain.

Missing notables including Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachman and a few others who have expressed serious interest in a 2012 run according to Fox News:

Newt Gingrich had planned to attend but has indicated he will not have filed the FEC papers in time. Mitt Romney has yet to file his South Carolina candidacy papers and some insiders have hinted that his strategy will downplay the Palmetto State this time.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann expressed eagerness to attend but does not expect to have her paperwork in order until June. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin have filed no paperwork which some Republicans see as a sign that both will opt out of the 2012 race altogether.

More details on the May 5th Republican debate as we get them.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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