CNN to Host GOP Primary Debate Next June

Like it did in 2007, network to team with local newspaper, TV station to produce state’s first 2011 debate

The 2012 presidential primaries are more than a year away, but the cable news networks that depend on the election cycle for their livelihoods are already prepping for the debates that precede them.

The latest: CNN announced on Tuesday that it will produce New Hampshire’s first debate next June.

The Republican presidential primary debate is slated for June 7, 2011, in Manchester, the network said. As it did in 2007, CNN is teaming with the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper and local WMUR-TV to produce it.

The 2007 GOP New Hampshire primary debate featured 10 candidates: Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Tommy Thompson, Tom Tancredo and eventual Republican nominee John McCain.

Sam Feist, CNN’s political director and vice president of Washington programming, said the state’s “unique role in the presidential nominating process will make this first New Hampshire debate a critical event of the 2012 presidential campaign.”

The announcement came so early, in fact, the network is not ready to release the location and time of the New Hampshire debate quite yet.