As we draw closer to the first GOP presidential debate, candidates who have struggled for publicity and support are growing desperate in trying to figure out a way to make it onto the stage.
One of them, it seems, is Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who on Friday morning announced on Twitter that he had met the debate qualifications and would be appearing with others who have qualified for the August 23rd debate:
I am excited to announce that I have met all of the criteria to qualify for the @GOP‘s first primary debate.
While our campaign only began a few weeks ago, I am humbled knowing that Republicans from all fifty states have donated to our campaign—nearly 50,000 thus far.
Now, I will renew my efforts to tell America about how I’ve used conservative ideas to turn Miami into a shining example of what our party can be. A party that cares and delivers. A party where your future is only limited by your own efforts.
The problem here is that according to RNC officials, Suarez, who entered the race in mid-June, has not yet qualified for the debate:
But his announcement does not match POLITICO’s analysis, and an RNC official told The Associated Press, which first reported Suarez’s claims, that the committee considers Suarez short of its criteria.
The Miami Herald’s reporting backed up what the AP originally reported, with the Herald citing two unnamed senior RNC officials as saying Suarez had so far failed to qualify according to their requirements.
According to that POLITICO analysis, though Suarez has hit the money goal, he’s two qualifying polls short.
As of this writing, Suarez has not publicly responded to the RNC’s claim.
The “Suarez has qualified” declarations first started earlier this week when a PAC that supports him started spreading the story:
Suarez’s announcement came several days after an independent super PAC supporting his presidential bid, SOS America, began claiming that Suarez had qualified for the debate. Suarez’s campaign did not respond to days of questions about whether he had, in fact, met the debate criteria — until Suarez posted Friday on social media that he would be participating.
Some on the Twitter machine have accused Suarez of trying to pull a stunt by making people believe he had qualified when, according to the RNC, he hasn’t. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t be the first time.
At the end of July, the Suarez campaign began offering $20 gift cards to anyone who donated $1 to his campaign, which would help him qualify for the debate. It was a tactic first used, successfully, by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who will be on stage in Milwaukee next Wednesday along with at least seven other candidates who have all qualified.
As RedState previously noted, former President Donald Trump has reportedly decided to skip the debate.
The qualifying period runs through Monday, August 21 at 9 pm ET. It’s unclear what if any GOP presidential polls will be released between now and that time and whether they would help Suarez.
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