Charleston picked to host Republican presidential town hall debate

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston was picked Thursday to host a Republican presidential town hall debate in January.

CNN and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC) will host the debate in Charleston on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, as part of the SRLC's biennial conference.

South Carolina will be one of the first states to vote in the Republican presidential primary in 2012. CNN made the announcement on its website Thursday.

"On behalf of the Southern Republican Conference Board of Directors, we are very excited to be working with CNN on this important presidential town hall debate," said Ed McMullen, chairman of the SRLC board of directors. "We look forward to hosting our 2012 presidential candidates, and showcasing their conservative ideas."

Republican leaders from the 14 states that make up the RNC Southern Region will meet in downtown Charleston for three days, beginning Jan. 19, 2012 for the SRLC's biennial conference. The presidential debate will take place as part of the conference, which is expected to draw 2,000 attendees.

"We welcome Republican candidates to our great state for what will be an important policy discussion about the future of our nation." said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, chairman of the SRLC.

The conference is designed to bring top Republican activists, donors, candidates, and elected officials together for speeches, issue briefings, and political training from candidates, party leaders, and other prominent Conservatives.

Copyright WCSC 2011. All rights reserved. CNN contributed to this report.