Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has committed to a June presidential debate set for the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.

The likely 2012 candidate is the first potential candidate on the Republican side to officially sign on for the June 7 debate sponsored by WMUR-TV, the New Hampshire Union Leader and CNN.

"I am committed to being an active participant in the debate process to share my views about how we can best tackle our nation's challenges, particularly in a state like New Hampshire that hosts the first-in-the-nation primary," Santorum said in a statement Monday. "I hope others considering a run for president will take this opportunity seriously so that we may offer solutions and alternatives to President Obama's failed policies."

Santorum was also the first Republican to commit to a May 5 debate in the early state of South Carolina, but it remains unclear whether he will be a participant. Fox News, which is sponsoring that debate along with the South Carolina GOP, said Monday that candidates must form official presidential exploratory committees to take part in the debate.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer are the only three Republicans to have taken that official step so far. 

Santorum is headed back to the Granite State later this week for a three-day campaign swing.