The Republican National Committee (RNC) is set to hold the first debate among the GOP presidential primary candidates on August.23, at an event hosted by Fox News in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As we wrote in mid-July, those qualifying for the debate include: (emphasis mine)
former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former President Donald Trump, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
New data from the end of July, though, shows that former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum will also join them, bringing the grand total to seven candidates on stage. Again, readers likely will notice that some prominent names are missing; they just have not measured up, based on the criteria laid out by the RNC:
Behind those seven are former Mike Pence and former Asa Hutchinson — who have already met the polling bar but need more donors to their campaigns.
Now, the RNC has announced the date and location of the second debate. It will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, California, on September 27. But along with this being the next round, stricter rules will apply that could leave some candidates off-stage next time
According to a person familiar with the plans, candidates will need to hit at least 3 percent in two national polls, or 3 percent in one national poll and 3 percent in two polls conducted from separate early nominating states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada), in order to qualify.
The polling threshold is higher than the first debate, for which a candidate will need to poll at least 1 percent in three national polls or 1 percent in two national polls and 1 percent in two early-state polls, in order to qualify.
For the second debate, the polls the RNC will count must meet the same criteria as for the first debate: conducted with large sample sizes and by firms that are not affiliated with any of the candidates.
But the issue for lower-tier candidates isn’t so much making the grade through polling. It looks like they’ve got that covered. It’s whether they’ve swayed enough people to hand over money to their campaign. Instead of needing 400,000 unique donors, for September’s debate, they will now need 500,000. The deadline for candidates to reach that benchmark is 48 hours before the debate. So, we’ll see who can beat the clock, so to speak.
And as with all of the RNC-sponsored debates, they must all pledge to support whoever becomes the nominee–something that might be a tightrope act for some of the players at the table. Candidates also cannot agree to take part in debates not sanctioned by the RNC.
At the moment, it hasn’t been announced yet which media outlet will partner with the RNC to present the September event.
If something changes—like we get a definite statement from Trump on whether or not he’ll take the stage in Milwaukee with the other potential nominees or another candidate makes the cut—we’ll bring you a follow-up story about it.