The Republican National Committee on Friday laid out its criteria for candidates to qualify for the first Republican presidential primary debate, establishing a key fundraising threshold and requiring candidates to pledge to support the party’s eventual nominee.
The benchmark debate, scheduled for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, is expected to see more contenders join the race in the coming days and weeks as the Republican presidential primary field grows increasingly crowded. A second debate could be held on Aug. 24 if enough candidates qualify, the RNC said in a statement.
To qualify for the platform, candidates must receive at least 1 percent support in several national polls approved by the committee, and some polls from early voting states also count. Candidates must have at least 40,000 individual donors to their campaign, with at least 200 individual donors per state or territory, in 20 states and territories, according to the committee.
The 40,000-donor debate limit could prove a consequential and costly hurdle for some underfunded candidates. Republican campaigns have already been told informally about the conditions, and some are racing to make sure they have enough donors. Some super PACs spend money on online ads to drive small donations to campaigns.
In 2020, even some popular Democratic candidates struggled to reach the 65,000 donor threshold. The 40,000 minimum could be a challenge for lesser-known Republicans and those who have yet to launch their campaigns.
Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas Struggled to gain traction On the polls, he insisted in a statement on Friday that he wanted to create a platform for debate Various concerns were expressed about the criteria.
“The 40,000 donor limit will keep some candidates off the debate stage and benefit candidates who generate online donations through extreme rhetoric and scare tactics,” he said in the statement. “It deprives voters in Iowa and other primary states of an opportunity to evaluate the full range of candidates.”
And Larry Elder, a conservative commentator facing an uphill battle in the presidential race, said in an interview that the 40,000-donor rule was “difficult” when he expected to meet the turnout threshold.
“Getting 40,000 individual donors is difficult,” said Mr. Elder said, declining to specify how many donors he has had so far. “We are working hard. I have a professional team to do it, but I think it is difficult and I know other campaigns have complained about it.
Still, some campaigns — and would-be campaigns — were quick to sound notes of optimism Friday afternoon.
“Looking forward to being there!” Nachama Soloveitchik, a former ambassador to the United Nations and spokeswoman for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, said.
Former Vice President Mike Pence expected Quickly jump into the same race, and his team wins a similar theme.
“There is no better communicator in the Republican Party than Mike Pence, so we look forward to being on stage,” said Mr. Pence’s adviser Devin O’Malley said.
Tricia McLaughlin, a senior adviser to businessman, author and “anti-vigilante” activist Vivek Ramasamy, said the campaign already has “north of 43,000” individual donors. The next campaign finance filing deadline is later this summer.
This isn’t the first time there have been attempts to oust Republican debate platform participants. In 2016, low polling candidates were relegated to undercard debates.
Criteria for additional Republican debates this campaign cycle have not been announced. One person described the debates and said the donor limit could be increased for debates or required poll averages.
Two Republicans familiar with the discussions said Gov. Ron DeSantis’s team wants a higher threshold than 1 percent, which could thin the platform that would give him the current Republican front-runner, former President Donald J. Gives a direct link to Trump. – The runner.
Mr. Trump, for his part, has already suggested he may avoid the primary debates, saying it’s not worth debating his rivals because of his polling advantage.
Candidates who want to debate in the August matchup are expected to pledge not to participate in any debate not approved by the party committee for the remainder of the election cycle and to ultimately support the Republican nominee.
“I have always supported the party candidate, but I have never supported the party oath,” said Mr. Criticizing Trump, Mr. Hutchinson said. “The pledge must be that you will not run as a third-party candidate.”
Those coming to the dais will be grouped according to the polls, the committee said, adding that the candidate with the highest number of votes will be at the centre.
Fox News is planned The first debate should be held in Milwaukee.
Shane Goldmaker, Maggie Haberman And Reid J. Epstein Contributed report.