Keith Olbermann will lead Current TV’s presidential election coverage for 2012, in all likelihood as soon as the next Republican primary in South Carolina, execs from the cabler said Friday.

“Keith has told us he will do our special election covered moving forward,” Current TV prexy David Bohrman said at the network’s Television Critics Assn. panel promoting weeknight series “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm,” which Current said would premiere Jan. 30. “That is what we want him to do; that is one of the key reasons he was brought to Current.

“So I expect you will see Keith moving forward leading our election coverage, which we desperately want him to do.”

Bohrman and Granholm were joined in Pasadena by Current TV chairman and co-founder Al Gore, CEO Joel Hyatt and “Young Turks” host Cenk Uygur — but not Olbermann, who was said to be on vacation, a statement that drew laughter from the assembled media.

But Olbermann, the onscreen touchstone of the network, remains at the forefront of its election coverage plans.

“We wanted him from the get-go,” Bohrman said. “We asked him two months ago. He declined. They declined.”

Bohrman declined to elaborate on the reason for the delayed start, which has been reportedly attributed to a need to focus on improving aspects of 8 p.m. show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” Current didn’t say unequivocally that Olbermann would be part of the coverage of the next Republican primary in South Carolina on Jan. 24, but that is the network’s expectation and hope.

“We have now been told by Keith that he will be leading our coverage going forward,” Bohrman said. “That’s what we wanted to do two months ago, as we were gearing toward Iowa and New Hampshire, that’s what we want to happen now, and that’s what we believe will happen.”

Current execs might actually have been surprised by how little they were forced to talk about Olbermann and how much they were able to put forth their case as a necessary anti-establishment network in the political realm. Uygur was the leading firebrand, offering harsh criticism of Fox News and CNN.

Bohrman echoed the comments, in a bit less incendiary fashion, saying that the work of Current’s cable news rivals was “as dysfunctional as the politics it’s covering.”

Gore also took up the Current banner aggressively, though his best one-liner was reserved for the Republican race.

“It reminds me of a reality show where nobody gets voted off the island,” the former vice president said.