NBC News and Politico hope to kick off the 2012 presidential race with one of the earliest televised debates in recent memory, scheduled for May 2 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. But it sounds like the show might have to go on without one of the top contenders for the nomination.
In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt this afternoon, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he hasn’t accepted the invitation to appear at the debate yet, and criticized the timing of the event which comes more than 6 months before the first Iowa voters head out to caucus.
“I think it’s kind of curious that before, I think, anybody had announced their candidacy for the White House, or for our nomination for the presidency, that various networks are announcing their debates,” Romney, considered to be the early frontrunner for the nomination, told the radio host.
Romney said he “doesn’t know” the timing of his own decision to join the debate or the presidential field.
Though he criticized the debate timing, Romney did not join Hewitt on his recent crusade to attack debate host Politico for moving toward the left, a theory Hewitt said is proven in part by the political website’s decision to co-host the debate with NBC.
From the transcript of the interview with Romney, posted on Hewitt’s website:
HH: NBC and Politico are pushing for a May 2nd debate. I was on Fox and Friends this morning denouncing the idea. Have you accepted that invitation yet, Governor?
MR: No, I have not. I think it’s kind of curious that before, I think, anybody had announced their candidacy for the White House, or for our nomination for the presidency, that various networks are announcing their debates. I don’t know if there will be anybody announced by that time, or at least anybody that you think of as being among the leading contenders. But I don’t know what the time is of our own decision process. But that seems kind of early, and I think it’s a curious approach.