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A number of Republican presidential candidates will be joining a forum hosted by South Carolina Senator Jim “Tea Party” DeMint. The forum will air live today on CNN at 3pm eastern time and also be streamed live online at Townhall.com. This can be billed as a sort of “kickoff” event for the campaign season which shifts into high gear around Labor Day weekend. Mitt Romney originally turned down an invite to the event citing his schedule, however, after a number of developing factors in the race, he was able to work out his “scheduling issues.”

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Watch Replay: Palmetto Freedom Forum Replay

Participants: Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain

Air Time: September 5th (Labor Day) at 3pm EST on CNN

Press release from The American Principles Project:

… CNN will broadcast the “American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum” live in Columbia, S.C. on Monday, September 5 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. The event’s unique format will cut through the talking points and put the candidates to test in a crucial early nominating state. The website www.Townhall.com will live-stream the event, including a roundtable immediately following it with analysis from the three panelists.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will join Texas Governor Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), Rep. Ron Paul (TX), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and businessman Herman Cain are set to participate. They be on the stage one-at-a-time and will participate in a question and answer session with three panelists: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), and Dr. Robert George, founder of American Principles Project and McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.

The event will be moderated by David Stanton, a veteran of South Carolina presidential events and respected former local news anchor

Invitations were also sent to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The criteria set was at or above the 5 percent threshold in the RealClearPolitics.com 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination average at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, August 22, and therefore all qualified for invitations to the Labor Day afternoon event.

This will be a Q&A forum format so I doubt we will see much back and forth between candidates but I could be wrong. More information can be found on the event’s facebook page.

Update:

Rick Perry was forced to change plans today and cannot attend the forum according to Townhall.com:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry surprised the organizers of today’s Palmetto Freedom Forum by withdrawing from the event just hours before it is scheduled to begin. Put together by Sen. Jim DeMint, who is widely acknowledged as a kingmaker in the Republican race in South Carolina, the event, set for 3 p.m. today, will feature candidates Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich in an unconventional question-and-answer format with DeMint, Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, and Princeton University professor Robert George.

According to several sources familiar with events, the chairman of Perry’s campaign in South Carolina, former Republican party chief Katon Dawson, called organizers this morning to say that Perry needs to return to Texas to deal with quickly-spreading wildfires.

I’d have to believe this is the truth since the situation in Texas with regard to the wildfires has severely worsened in the past 24 hours. I can’t see any reason Perry would have to withdraw unless he was forced to such as a situation like this. We’ll see how his opponents react to his absence.

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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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