Eight Republicans have qualified for the party’s first 2024 presidential primary debate on Wednesday night, the Republican National Committee announced Monday evening.
The list includes North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, former Vice President Mike Pence, businessman Vivek Ramasamy and the South. Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.
Former President Donald Trump — a clear frontrunner in national and early state polls — is skipping the debate in Milwaukee and has called on his rivals to drop out.
To make the first debate platform, RNC candidates must recruit at least 40,000 individual donors and register at least 1% support in three national polls or two national and two primary state polls that meet the RNC’s criteria. Candidates must sign a pledge to support the eventual winner of the GOP primary, whoever that may be. It’s unclear whether Trump signed the pledge, as did those on stage Wednesday.
“The RNC is excited to showcase our diverse candidate field and conservative vision to defeat Joe Biden on the debate stage Wednesday night,” RNC Chairwoman Rona McDaniel said in a statement Monday night.
See who’s in and who’s out in the first GOP debate of the 2024 presidential election.
The Florida governor could wear a bigger target Wednesday night, with the top polling candidate on stage in Trump’s absence. DeSantis has scaled back his campaign in recent weeks, after failing to make progress in turning Trump into the GOP’s standard-bearer in the early months of the primary. His turn in the national spotlight Wednesday could be a turning point in the party’s primaries — whether to launch DeSantis forward or make him a Trump replacement.
The tech entrepreneur posted a shirtless video of himself practicing tennis on Monday, which he described as his controversial product. He also appeared on liberal media programs that many Republican contenders avoid, such as a podcast with HBO host Bill Maher. A memo from a pro-DeSantis super PAC made public last week instructing the Florida governor to attack Ramasamy is a sign of the 38-year-old’s surge in the race.
The former vice president had more trouble reaching the 40,000-donor threshold than some rivals, but did so with two weeks to spare. He suggested he was looking forward to a clash with his former ticket partner. Criticizing Trump’s decision to skip the debate, Pence told ABC News on Sunday that “every qualified candidate should be on stage ready to answer those tough questions.”
The former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump offered a glimpse into how Republicans on the platform are more focused on winning the support of their less-voted rivals than on taking on Trump outright. On Monday, he criticized Ramaswamy, saying on social media that “his foreign policies have a common theme: They make America less safe.”
The South Carolina senator has sought to provide a more favorable contrast to rivals like Trump and DeSantis — and he could find himself in a showdown with the Florida governor. .
The former New Jersey governor may be the biggest wild card on stage Wednesday night. As a 2016 presidential contender, he ended Marco Rubio’s presidential hopes in a debate, relentlessly mocking the Florida senator for delivering a “memorized 25-second speech.” Christie has positioned himself as a fierce Trump critic, but he won’t confront Trump head-on as he avoids debate.
The North Dakota governor, who wooed donors with a gift card program — $20 in exchange for $1 donations — took the stage Wednesday night to describe himself as a lesser-known contender. He said Sunday on NBC that he would have won the debate “if we had the chance to explain who we are, what we’re about, why we’re running.”
The former Arkansas governor has also positioned himself as a Trump critic. She previously complained about the RNC’s loyalty pledge requirement but told CNN’s Kasie Hunt on Sunday that she signed the pledge because she “believes Donald Trump will not be the nominee.”
The former president made the official announcement Sunday on his social media site, Truth Social, that he’s been hinting at for months: He’s skipping the first debate. Trump pointed to his sizable lead in Republican primary polls and said Americans already knew his record after four years in the White House.
Still, Trump’s campaign is trying to get some attention in Milwaukee. The former president has taped an interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, which is expected to be used as counterprogramming during the debate.
The Michigan businessman fell short of the RNC’s polling requirements, which his campaign used to raise the minimum 40,000 donors needed to qualify. It sold “I Stand With Tucker” T-shirts defending the former Fox News anchor after his firing. It also offered tickets to a concert by country duo Big & Rich to anyone who donated. And it offered $10 gas cards to anyone willing to make a $1 contribution.
After announcing the participants in the RNC debate, Perry insisted that the panel met the eligibility requirements. “The debate process is broken, plain and simple,” he said Said in XFormerly known as Twitter.
The Miami mayor, who told Fox News his chances of qualifying for the 2024 debate are “significant,” said he exceeded the donor limit but did not meet the RNC’s polling requirements. Suarez said in a statement Tuesday that his “perspectives” will not be featured at the “Sorry” event, but that he respects the “rules and processes laid out by the RNC.”
His absence could be a break for DeSantis, who has faced harsh criticism from his fellow Florida Republicans.
The former Texas congressman has been one of the most outspoken Trump critics in the race — and has faced backlash, such as when he told a Des Moines crowd at the Iowa GOP’s Lincoln dinner in July that the former president was “running.” Stay out of jail.”
Hurt on Tuesday criticized the RNC for its “unacceptable process” for determining debate participants. He accused the committee of ignoring polls from independents and Democrats who supported the Republican nominee. He had previously said he would not sign the RNC pledge, but appeared to change his stance last week when he expressed “hope” he would be on stage in Milwaukee.
The conservative California talk radio host, who is the leading GOP candidate in the state’s 2021 gubernatorial recall, has sharply criticized the RNC’s debate eligibility requirements. He X said Tuesday He sued the RNC to “stop” Wednesday’s proceedings, insisting officials were “afraid to hear my voice on the debate stage.”
The veteran tried to meet the 40,000-donor threshold with a radio blitz on Monday, but, according to CNN’s tally, turnout requirements were also low.
Little-known Texas pastor and entrepreneur joins Iowa GOP Lincoln dinner speaking lineup He tweeted on Sunday that he has more than 45,000 donors. However, he did not waver in the primary voting.
This story has been updated with additional information.