The Republican National Committee on Friday revealed the polling and fundraising criteria that GOP presidential candidates will need to reach in order to make the stage at the first primary debate, which Fox News will host in August.
And to take part in the debates, the Republican presidential candidates will also need to sign a pledge supporting the eventual GOP nominee.
The RNC announced that the first debate will be held on August 23. The national party committee added in their release that “should enough candidates qualify to make it necessary, there will be a second debate on August 24.”
The debate, or debates, will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is the host city for the 2024 Republican National Convention.
To make the stage, candidates will have to reach 1% in three national polls, or 1% in two national polls and 1% in a poll conducted in one of the four early voting states in the GOP presidential nominating calendar – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
The polls must be recognized by the RNC and must be conducted on or after July 1st, and at least 48 hours prior to the first debate.
To reach the debate state, candidates must also have 40,000 unique donors to their campaign committee (or exploratory committee), with “at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in 20+ states and/or territories.”
The RNC says candidates must present their fundraising figures at least 48 hours prior to the first debate.
Besides signing a pledge agreeing to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee, the candidates must also must sign a pledge agreeing not to participate in any non-RNC sanctioned debates for the rest of the 2024 election cycle and to agree to data sharing with the national party committee.
“The RNC is committed to putting on a fair, neutral, and transparent primary process and the qualifying criteria set forth will put our party and eventual nominee in the best position to take back the White House come November 2024,” RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.
Former President Donald Trump currently remains the commanding front-runner in the latest Republican presidential nomination polls. Trump, who launched his campaign in November, is making his third straight White House run.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who declared his candidacy last week, is a clear second in the latest surveys. The field also includes former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former two-term Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, multimillionaire entrepreneur and conservative commentator Vivek Ramaswamy, Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, and conservative radio host and former California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum are expected to launch campaigns next week. And Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and former Reps. Will Hurd of Texas and Mike Rogers of Michigan are also seriously mulling 2024 bids.
The new thresholds, which some of the candidates may find difficult to meet, apparently aim to prevent the crowded and combustible atmosphere of the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race.
Eight years ago the RNC limited the main debates to the top 10 polling candidates, with secondary debates for those contenders lower in the polls.
“I’m going to meet the criteria, whatever is set, to get on the debate stage. It’s very important,” Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told Fox News.
“Whenever you set a requirement that you support the nominee of the party, I would have preferred it simply say you pledge not to run as a third party candidate,” Hutchinson emphasized.
And he added that “the other challenge is for some of the candidates 40,000 donors. That’s going to penalize those who are just building their campaign or national efforts. 40,000 donors reflects a concentrated effort to build on-line donations and some candidates prefer to invest in other ways to get their message out to the voters.”
The first debate will be televised exclusively on Fox News, and Rumble is the online live-streaming partner. Young America’s Foundation is also co-hosting the first debate.
Trump has repeatedly warned that he may not take part in the first debate.
“When you’re way up, you don’t do debates. If you’re even or down you do debates, but when you’re way up, what’s the purpose of doing the debate?” the former president argued in an interview on WABC radio in late April.
But Hutchinson, a vocal GOP critic of Trump, told Fox News on Friday that “every candidate for president outght to be on the debate stage. They ought to be able to answer tough questions, both from the public but also from the media. I think he will be there eventually. But he’ll probably change his mind two or three times between now and the time of the debate.”