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Republican Presidential Candidates Face Higher Qualifications for Second Debate


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Republican presidential candidates vying for a spot in the second debate of the 2024 cycle face even higher thresholds after the first debate. The qualifications for the next debate, scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., were revealed by a source within the Republican National Committee.

To participate in the second debate, candidates will need to obtain at least 3% support in two national polls. Alternatively, they can secure 3% in one national poll along with two polls from any of the four early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

In addition to the polling requirements, White House hopefuls must have a minimum of 50,000 unique donors, with at least 200 donors from 20 different states or territories. These increased thresholds were recently reported by Politico.

All candidates must meet these qualifications at least two days before the debate.

The requirements set for the first debate, scheduled for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, were less demanding. Candidates needed a minimum of 1% support in three reputable national polls or a combination of early-state and national polls. They also had to secure at least 40,000 unique donors.

Meeting these criteria has proven challenging for about half of the broad GOP field.

Currently, seven candidates have qualified for the first debate: former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

Two hopefuls, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, have met the polling requirements but have yet to secure the necessary number of unique donors. Other candidates have attempted creative methods, potentially crossing legal boundaries, in their bid to increase their numbers.

Republican National Committee Debates

The upcoming Republican National Committee (RNC) debates are creating quite a buzz among political enthusiasts. While the RNC has set certain requirements for candidates to participate, there are some notable developments that are worth mentioning.

Trump’s Potential Absence

Donald Trump, the early frontrunner in the field, has been meeting the polling and fundraising thresholds. However, he has hinted that he might skip the Milwaukee debate and instead host his own campaign event. Despite this, the candidate with the highest poll numbers will take center stage, as per the debate details shared with the AP.

RNC’s Participation Requirement

To be eligible for participation in RNC debates, candidates must pledge their support to the eventual GOP nominee and commit not to engage in any debates that are not sanctioned by the party. This includes the general election debate sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Contents of the Pledge

Although the RNC has not publicly released the exact language of the pledge, it is expected to be similar to the one used in 2016. In that pledge, candidates affirmed their commitment to endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, regardless of who it may be. Additionally, candidates pledged not to run as an independent or accept the nomination of any other party if they did not win the nomination themselves.

Dissent from Will Hurd

Former Texas Representative Will Hurd has made it clear that he will not sign the 2024 pledge. He has expressed his unwillingness to support Donald Trump, particularly considering Trump’s three indictments.

Trump’s Legal Challenges

Trump currently faces legal challenges on multiple fronts. On Tuesday, he was indicted on felony charges related to his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. This indictment is tied to the events of the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. Trump is scheduled to appear in court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. His campaign, however, dismisses these charges as “fake.”

In addition to the aforementioned charges, Trump also faces legal trouble in a federal case in Florida regarding the mishandling of classified documents. Furthermore, he is involved in a state case in New York stemming from hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to bury allegations of extramarital sexual encounters.

See: Trump faces arraignment Thursday as his campaign again pivots to raising money on indictment news

Also: Republicans — including Trump’s putative rivals in 2024 — have few criticisms of former president after Jan. 6 indictment in D.C.

As the RNC debates approach, the political landscape is becoming increasingly intense. The outcome of these debates will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the future of the Republican Party and its candidates.

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