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Who qualifies for the first 2024 Republican presidential debate?

Trump says he won't participate in debates
Trump says he won't participate in debates; CBS News poll shows his lead growing 03:10

The Republican National Committee announced Monday night that the debate stage has been set for the first Republican presidential primary debate, set to be held Wednesday.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Vice President Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina have all qualified for the debate, the RNC said. 

To qualify for the first debate in Milwaukee, the Republican National Committee requires that candidates reach at least 1% in multiple eligible polls, gather at least 40,000 donors, and sign a pledge committing to supporting the ultimate GOP nominee.

Former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social over the weekend that he would not be attending. He also posted that he will be surrendering to Fulton County, Georgia, authorities on Thursday, one day after the debate. Trump and 18 others were indicted last week on state felony charges of racketeering related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 


Doug Burgum

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's campaign announced in late July that he qualified for the first debate, following Burgum offering donors $20 gift cards for $1 donations. Burgum's spokesman said the governor "is looking forward to sharing his focus on the economy, energy and national security at the August debate."

Burgum was a little-known name outside of North Dakota politics before he announced his presidential bid.

Ron DeSantis 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who trails former President Donald Trump in most polls, meets the polling and donor requirements for the first debate, according to his campaign. The candidate also says he signed the RNC loyalty pledge. 

DeSantis' performance will be critical for an operation that's shrunk and reorganized in recent months. DeSantis' campaign shaved more than a third of its staff in the second quarter of 2023 to remain afloat financially through the fall. 

Nikki Haley

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed the RNC loyalty pledge on Aug. 9, according to her campaign. Her campaign says Haley — the only woman in the GOP field — meets the donor and polling threshold for the debate. 

Tim Scott

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina has qualified for the first debate, according to his campaign. He has also signed the RNC's loyalty pledge, according to a copy of the pledge shared with CBS News. 

Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, has sought to pitch what he describes as an optimistic vision for the country's future. 

"I look forward to sharing my positive, optimistic message on the GOP Debate stage in Milwaukee," Scott said after his campaign announced that he qualified. "Republicans are ready for conservative leadership with a backbone, one that will crush the cartels, stand up to China, and protect the America we all love." 

Vivek Ramaswamy

A political outsider who has campaigned relentlessly, the formerly unknown, 38-year-old entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has captured the attention of a chunk of the GOP electorate. Technically, Ramaswamy became the first Republican candidate to qualify after he said he signed the RNC loyalty pledge in early August. He has met the polling and donor requirements, according to his campaign. 

Asa Hutchinson

Hutchinson's campaign manager said Sunday that the former Arkansas governor had reached debate threshold of 40,000 unique donors, and had hit the polling threshold as well. Rob Burgess, Hutchinson's campaign manager, said the campaign has spoken with RNC and said they confirmed that Hutchinson has met the criteria. Hutchinson has also signed the RNC pledge.   

Chris Christie

Chris Christie, who blasted the RNC over a similar loyalty pledge in 2015, has balked at the latest RNC loyalty pledge. But Christie told ABC News on Aug. 13 that he hadn't been presented with such a pledge. 

"They're still going through, I guess, the process of verifying all of our donors and all the rest of it, but I'm sure I'll be presented with the pledge at some point in the next week," Christie said on ABC's "This Week." 

Christie said in July he'd met the qualifications for the debate. 

Mike Pence

Former Vice President Mike Pence reached the donor threshold and qualified for the debate on Aug. 8, according to his campaign. The former vice president told Fox News he will sign the RNC pledge to support the ultimate nominee, "especially if it's me." But Pence's team hasn't announced any such signature yet. Pence has struggled to poll above a few percent, as he faces off against his former boss. 

Says will be skipping 

Donald Trump

Trump, the leading candidate in the GOP field, qualifies by the donor and debate metrics. But Trump posted on Truth Social on Sunday that he is planning on skipping the debate

Citing a CBS News poll, Trump wrote that he had "legendary" polling numbers and "I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!" 

According to sources familiar with the planning, Trump has already recorded an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and it could air at the same time as the debate. The timing for the airing of the interview has not been finalized yet, according to the sources. It's also unclear where the pre-recorded interview will air. 

Trump previously told Newsmax he won't sign the RNC's loyalty pledge. 

Trump said to Newsmax on Aug. 9 "what's the upside" of debating when the others on the stage are "not dumb people." 

Who hasn't qualified

Francis Suarez

As of Aug. 14, the political action committee supporting Republican Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says he has attained the debate thresholds. Suarez has reached 1% in three national polls, and previously reached the fundraising threshold, the PAC said. But a spokesperson for Suarez' campaign said they have "no announcement at this time." 

"Another day, another poll confirms that conservative Miami Mayor Francis Suarez will be on the RNC debate stage," said SOS America PAC Spokesman Chapin Fay. "Having a successful Republican with a strong record of accomplishment, who is also a prominent Hispanic voice in a campaign with no other Hispanic candidates is a critical step in winning over one of the fastest growing demographics in America."

Will Hurd

Former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas announced he would be running for president on June 22, which gave him less than two months to qualify. Still, he told CNN last week that he was "pretty confident" his campaign would qualify. 

Hurd did not answer if thought a candidate should drop out if he or she does not qualify for the debate. 

Larry Elder

Conservative radio host Elder posted on social media earlier Monday that he had qualified for the debate. On Tuesday, he said he planned on suing the RNC to halt the debate, alleging the RNC changed the rules process in the "eleventh hour." 

Elder said he planned to hold a press conference Wednesday outside the arena. 

Perry Johnson

Businessman Perry Johnson also said he qualified for the debate. On Monday night, he posted on social media that "the debate process has been corrupted, plain and simple. "

Johnson said "we'll be in Milwaukee Wednesday." 

Fin Gomez contributed to this report. 

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