One of the nation's largest and most vocal Tea Party groups is set to co-host a GOP primary debate in Florida next year.
CNN is teaming with the Tea Party Express to host the debate, scheduled for Labor Day week 2011 in Tampa, Fla.
"The Tea Party Express is a fascinating, diverse, grassroots force that already has drastically changed the country’s political landscape,” CNN political director Sam Feist said in a statement announcing the debate. “Undecided voters turn to CNN to educate themselves during election cycles, so it is a natural fit for CNN to provide a platform for the diverse perspectives within the Republican Party, including those of the Tea Party movement.”
During the 2010 election season, the Tea Party Express played a prominent role in several GOP Senate primaries, backing Sharron Angle in Nevada, Joe Miller in Alaska and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware.
The Florida debate gets added to an already jam-packed 2011 debate schedule that now includes at least eight showdowns between the Republican presidential hopefuls.
The state of Iowa will host a primary debate in August of 2011 to correspond with the critical Iowa Straw Poll. And another four debates are already planned in key primary states — two in New Hampshire and two in South Carolina.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation announced plans earlier this year to host the first GOP presidential debate of the election cycle in spring 2011 and a second GOP debate on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries.