CNN has cancelled its Republican presidential debate scheduled for March 1 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The network made the move after two of the four leading GOP candidates made it clear they would not attend the debate, which was scheduled to take place 5 days before Georgia and nine other states vote in the March 6 "Super Tuesday" contest.
""Mitt Romney and Ron Paul told the Georgia Republican Party, Ohio Republican Party and CNN Thursday that they will not participate in the March 1 Republican presidential primary debate," CNN said in a statement. "Without full participation of all four candidates, CNN will not move forward with the Super Tuesday debate. However, next week, CNN and the Arizona Republican Party will host all four leading contenders for the GOP nomination. That debate will be held in Mesa, Arizona on February 22 and will be moderated by CNN's John King."
Romney campaign staffers maintain they have spent a lot of time in Georgia and participated in many debates, "Gov. Romney will be spending a lot of time campaigning in Georgia and Ohio ahead of Super Tuesday," said Romney Spokesperson Amanda Henneberg. "With eight other states voting on March 6th, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate. We have participated in 20 debates, including 8 from CNN."
The Gingrich campaign was willing to participate in the debate and lashed out at Romney for backing out. Gingrich Spokesman R.C. Hammond tweeted, "@MittRomney spits in Georgia's face and cancels Atlanta debate appearance. #CNN."
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.