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RNC announces qualifying standards for candidates to make first debate

Notably, the RNC will require participants to sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee and agree not to participate in any debates the group does not officially sanction.

Published: June 2, 2023 3:47pm

The Republican National Committee on Friday announced the requirements for candidates seeking the party nomination for president to appear in the first debate.

Thus far, former President Donald Trump, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, media personality Larry Elder, and tech mogul Vivek Ramaswamy have announced their candidacies. Former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are also expected to soon enter the race.

Candidates seeking to make the first debate must reach 1% support in at least three different national polls. Alternatively, they may reach 1% in two national polls and a poll from one of the early primary states, The Hill reported. Moreover, said polls must survey at least 800 registered likely Republican voters on or after July 1 and may not be conducted by firms associated with one of the candidates.

It also imposed fundraising requirements, asserting that qualified candidates must have at least 40,000 unique donors and at least 200 unique donors from at least 20 states and territories.

Notably, the RNC will require participants to sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee and agree not to participate in any debates the group does not officially sanction. Both are likely to prove sticky points for Trump, who has already hinted that he may skip the first debate.

The former president has reportedly discussed hosting an alternative debate with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Trump has taken exception to Fox News's hosting of the first debate, scheduled for Aug. 23 and has repeatedly criticized the network.

The second debate, scheduled for Aug. 24, will occur at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, another sticking point for Trump given that Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan serves as chairman of the library's board.

Trump skipped a primary debate in the 2016 cycle, hosting a fundraiser for veterans' organizations instead. 

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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