Peachtree, Georgia - It's not often that you find men dressed up as live poultry dancing in the political limelight, but that was the scene at Newt Gingrich's homecoming rally, with one yellow chicken donning a Mitt Romney t-shirt and the other wearing a Rick Santorum one.
"It's Mitt-chick and Rick-chick!" a Gingrich supporter said gleefully, pointing to the signs the costumed men carried, which read "I'm chicken to debate Newt" and "76 delegates but Mitt and Rick don't want them?"
Up for grabs Super Tuesday are Georgia's 76 delegates, but on Thursday CNN announced it would be canceling the March 1 debate it had scheduled in Atlanta after Romney and Ron Paul decided not to participate and Santorum's campaign signaled it was unlikely their candidate would either. The debate was to be co-hosted by the Georgia Republican Party and Ohio Republican Party.
Polls indicate Santorum has been gradually picking up support in Gingrich's home state, and the Georgia native showed up Friday ready to slam his opponents. "If you're afraid to debate Newt Gingrich, you sure can't debate Barack Obama!" he said to a cheering crowd of approximately 450 people gathered in an aircraft hanger decorated with a floor-to-ceiling sized American flag.
"Frankly there is something wrong when somebody tries to buy their way to the presidency with a series of negative ads and won't stand up out in the open to defend them," Gingrich said in another jab at his opponents.
The former House speaker and Georgia congressman continued to target his main rivals at the media avail that followed: "I did notice that Governor Romney said he would seriously consider Santorum for vice president - I will let you as a good, clever reporter decide what that means."
Gingrich said he wouldn't explain the "games" his rivals were playing in withdrawing from the debate, but added, "All I can tell you is - I think the average Georgian and the average Ohioan is gonna say, let me get this straight, they're not willing to come here to debate, but they want my vote? I'm pretty happy to take that and move from there."