Greenville, S.C. — Despite the lack of big names at the first GOP presidential debate of the 2012 season, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told reporters a few minutes ago that he’s “proud” of the tonight’s slate.
“I think we all know that in the weeks and months ahead that there’ll be other candidates that are running, but I’m proud of the candidates that are here,” Priebus said. “And I think they’re going to articulate a message tonight that is going to give a clear view and a clear difference to the direction that this president has taken our country.” Participants for the Fox News Channel debate, which will begin at 9 p.m. EST, are: former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, and Rep. Ron Paul.
Priebus said tonight’s debate — eight months before the Iowa primary and 18 months from the 2012 election – is a kickoff to a long vetting process. “I think it’s about time to get started,” he said. “The green flag is down, and now we get to debate whether Obama has delivered on his promises.”