Romney to skip first GOP debate on Thursday

“Gov. Romney will not be participating in this week’s South Carolina debate because it’s still early, the field is too unsettled and he’s not yet an announced candidate,” said Rhoades. “Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party have both been notified of this decision.”

Romney’s decision not to participate means that Thursday’s debate, which will be co-hosted by the South Carolina GOP and Fox News, will be without some of the major figures in the 2012 race. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) has declined to participate, and other figures — including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — are ineligible to participate because of the forum’s rules.