Arizona will be front and center on Dec. 1 in the race among Republicans to earn the right to face off against Barack Obama.
CNN has reached an agreement with the Arizona Republican Party to host a debate in the state, Gov. Jan Brewer announced Thursday. It was Brewer who negotiated an agreement with the Republican National Committee to authorize a debate in the state.
Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said the exact location is still up in the air. He said, though, the site “figures to be in the Phoenix metro area.”
What has been decided, though, is the debate will be at 6 p.m. Arizona time.
Brewer, a Republican, said the 2012 presidential election will be “critical.” And she said it makes sense for candidates to come to Arizona to address concerns of voters here.
“When it comes to some of the hallmark issues facing our country, whether illegal immigration, the housing crisis or the ongoing struggle between the states and the federal government, Arizona is at the forefront,” the governor said in a prepared statement.
“These are national issues, certainly,” she continued. “But Arizonans live and breathe them.”
Brewer secured a promise of a debate as she was weighing whether to move up the state’s presidential primary from the Feb. 28 date set in law. That law allows her to set any earlier date.
The governor eventually backed off. But both she and officials of the Republican National Committee said her decision was unrelated to the agreement to letting an official debate take place in Arizona.
In his own prepared statement, Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief, said Arizona is “a key state that will play a pivotal role in helping Republicans choose their presidential nominee.”
Where Arizona will be in the order of primaries remains unsettled. There is still jockeying among some states.
For example, Florida also is currently in line to also have a Feb. 28 primary. But Republican officials in South Carolina, which had been set to have its vote on Feb. 28, have said they do not intend to share that date with Florida and will move up their own race.