GOP Energy And Environment Forum Canceled Because No One Was Going To Show Up

Only George Pataki and Jim Gilmore, the two least recognizable candidates, had agreed to make an appearance.

A forum for Republican presidential candidates to discuss energy and environment has been canceled "due to a lack of sufficient candidate participation," organizers announced Wednesday, the day before the event was supposed to take place.

The National Wildlife Federation and New Hampshire Audubon had been planning to hold the inaugural Fitzwater Presidential Forum on Energy and the Environment at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire. But only two of the 15 candidates -- former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore and former New York Gov. George Pataki -- confirmed they would be there. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had initially agreed to attend the forum, but canceled this week, National Wildlife Federation director of communications Miles Grant told The Huffington Post. 

Paul spokeswoman Eleanor May said Thursday that the senator had to decline due to "scheduling and travel conflicts."

The organizers made a valiant effort to engage Republicans on these issues. Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) was lined up to moderate the forum. Simon Roosevelt, former President Theodore Roosevelt's great-great-grandson and an active sportsman and conservationist, was also slated to appear. 

Gregg took an optimistic stance in a statement Wednesday. 

"I am confident that these issues, which are of great importance to New Hampshire citizens and our presidential candidates, will continue to be discussed throughout the remaining months leading up to the First-in-the-Nation Primary," he said. "With such a large field of candidates traveling to many places, attempting to get them to one location for a conversation about energy and environmental issues was a significant challenge to take on." 

The environmental groups and the university had also been planning a Democratic forum on these subjects, but said it has been postponed and a date has not been announced.

This article has been updated with comment from the Rand Paul campaign.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the location of Franklin Pierce University. The school is in Rindge, New Hampshire.