CNN Republican debate in Atlanta cancelled; Gingrich camp says Romney “spits in Georgia’s face”

From Jim Galloway at the AJC: CNN calls off March 1 GOP debate in Atlanta:

The March 1 Republican presidential debate scheduled for Atlanta is off, CNN confirmed Thursday.

The move comes after at least two of the four GOP hopefuls said they would not participate in the final forum before Georgia and nine other states vote on March 6, Super Tuesday.

“Mitt Romney and Ron Paul told the Georgia Republican Party, Ohio Republican Party and CNN Thursday that they will not participate in the March 1 Republican presidential primary debate,” CNN said in a statement. “Without full participation of all four candidates, CNN will not move forward with the Super Tuesday debate. ”

The statement said CNN and the Arizona Republican Party will host all four leading contenders for the GOP nomination on Feb. 22 in Mesa, Ariz. That debate will be moderated by CNN’s John King.

The Twitter response from someone described as a Gingrich spokesperson:

Romney’s camp has some song and dance about other campaign stops in the state, but it seems increasingly clear that a) Romney is in danger of coming in a distant 3rd in Georgia, b) there’s little upside in him devoting time and resources, especially since Georgia is Gingrich’s home state and Newt has been endorsed by major political figures statewide, and c) by not investing time and energy in Georgia, Romney will have an easy explanation for his poor anticipated performance.

Things are getting really ugly, and all the Republican contenders desperately lag Obama in the swing states they will need in the fall, according to a recent Fox News poll.