GOP Candidates Still Vying for Spots on the Debate Stage

( – Fox News is set to moderate the first Republican presidential primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 23. So far, eight candidates have qualified to participate in the televised event.

Qualifying candidates include former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence; Sen. Tim Scott (SC); current governors Ron DeSantis (FL) and Doug Burgum (SD); former governors Nikki Haley (SC) and Chris Christie (NJ); and entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy.

That leaves six of the 14 noteworthy candidates listed by Ballotpedia in the awkward position of still struggling to gain a spot on the debate stage. They consist of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Rep. Will Hurd (TX), former Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, 2021 California gubernatorial candidate and current talk radio host Larry Elder, and businessman and author Perry Johnson.

GOP Candidates Speak Out About Their Efforts To Earn a Coveted Debate Spot

Fox News recently spoke with three candidates hoping to qualify for the August 23 debate. It remains unclear if the other three still hope to make the grade, have turned their attention to future debates, or are reconsidering their candidacy.

Hutchinson told Fox News that he was optimistic he could meet the criteria to attend the primary season’s first debate. He acknowledged that he had fallen short of the required number of individual contributors but had picked up thousands of new donors in the last couple of weeks.

Likewise, Hurd told Fox that he was “confident” he would meet the required thresholds for donors and polling. However, he said he had other things to consider, like the Republican Nationals Committee’s (RNC’s) requirement that qualifying participants sign a pledge stating they would support the party’s winning candidate. Candidates must turn in a copy of it within 48 hours of walking onto the debate stage.

Suarez indicated that his campaign plans to spend money in the next couple of weeks to meet the polling threshold. He noted that, unlike the other candidates, he wasn’t a “well-established” national figure, leaving him at a distinct disadvantage.

The Republican National Committee Sets the Stage

On June 2, the RNC announced the criteria to participate in the first debate. They grouped those requirements into four sections.

  1. Candidate Status: Participants must meet the requirements to run for president and have active Federal Election Committee forms on file identifying themselves as candidates and their principal campaign committees in place.
  2. Polling: Reach at least 1% in three national polls, or 1% in two national polls and 1% in one poll each from two of the party’s designated “carve-out states” of Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, or New Hampshire.
  3. Fundraising: Have at least 40,000 unique donors to the primary campaign committee and 200 donors in 20 or more states or US territories.
  4. Pledges: Participants must sign and turn in pledges within 48 hours of the debate declaring they will share data, support the eventual party nominee, and agree not to participate in non-RNC-sanctioned debates.

Recent news reports indicate the RNC plans to increase the requirement thresholds for its second debate in Simi Valley, California, on September 27.

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