Charleston will host a town-hall-style Republican presidential debate on Jan. 19.
The debate will be sponsored by CNN and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. It coincides with the Leadership Conference's every-other-year conference for Republicans from 14 Southern states, which is expected to draw 2,000 people.
South Carolina's GOP primary has yet to be scheduled but likely will be held in late January or February next year.
"Because of South Carolina's role as the first-in-the-South (primary), as well as the many Southern states that vote on Super Tuesday, this debate provides 2012 GOP hopefuls an occasion to reach their key constituency in South Carolina and throughout the southern region," Sam Feist, Washington bureau chief and senior vice president of CNN, said in a statement.
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"Not only will the candidates have the chance to address Southern Republicans in person, the primary voters attending the conference also will have an opportunity to directly question their candidates for president."
- John O'Connor