Likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on Friday committed to attend the first primary debate of the 2012 cycle to be held next Thursday in South Carolina.

Pawlenty’s announcement was expected — he had been billed as an expected attendee by the debate’s organizers, the South Carolina GOP and Fox News.

“President Obama’s failed policies have seriously jeopardized our nation’s future and it’s time for Republicans to show leadership and engage in the battle of ideas,” he said in a statement. “We have to stand up for America every chance we get, and I for one look forward to doing that on Thursday in South Carolina.”

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