Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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Romney uncommitted on USF debate
Posted Jan 19, 2012 by William March
Updated Jan 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Mitt Romney apparently is wavering on whether to participate in a debate at the University of South Florida Monday night.
Asked whether he has committed to the debate in light of news reports suggesting otherwise, Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams responded in an email a few minutes ago, “We have no announcements at this point on upcoming debates.”
The producer of the debate for NBC couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
USF spokeswoman Lara Wade said she “has no information” on who will participate, but would try to find out, and that USF officials are meeting with the NBC crew this afternoon.
The question arose after conservative commentator Byron York reported yesterday that Romney adviser Stuart Stevens said the campaign hasn’t committed to either of the two debates in Florida—USF’s Monday night, and another planned for Jan. 26 on CNN in Jacksonville.
Romney took a pasting from all the other candidates in the South Carolina debate Monday. York quoted Stevens as saying, “There are too many of these ... It’s kind of like a cruise that’s gone on too long.”
With Rick Perry dropping out of the race, that means the debate could turn into a two-man show between the two remaining candidates who each hope to become the alternative to Romney for the nomination, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
“We’re locked in” for the debate, “and we’re ready to go toe-to-toe with Santorum,” said Gingrich Florida spokeswoman Portia Palmer.