WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- CNN said Thursday it has canceled a pre-Super Tuesday debate due to lack of "full participation" of GOP U.S. presidential hopefuls.
The cable news organization was sponsoring the debate along with the Georgia and Ohio state Republican parties, but three of the remaining four major GOP hopefuls -- former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas -- have said they will not participate in the debate, scheduled for March 1, leaving former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia as the only one of the four committed to participating.
"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."
The statement said CNN still plans to air a debate Feb. 22 in Mesa, Ariz., co-hosted by the Arizona Republican Party and including Santorum, Romney, Paul and Gingrich. The March 1 debate was scheduled to be the final GOP debate before the so-called Super Tuesday primaries scheduled for March 6.
A spokeswoman for Oregon Public Broadcasting told Politico Thursday the network still plans to televise a GOP debate March 19 in Portland co-hosted by PBS, NPR and The Washington Times.