Just four Republicans will be on stage Wednesday for the fourth Republican presidential debate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the Republican National Committee announced Monday evening.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy are the four who met the qualifications, the smallest field yet to take the stage during the GOP primary campaign.
The threshold set by the RNC was the highest set so far, demanding candidates reach at least 6% support in two national polls or 6% in one national poll as well as two polls from four of the early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The RNC approved the polls that would qualify candidates. And candidates also needed a minimum of 80,000 unique donors, with at least 200 from 20 states or territories.
And participants also had to sign a pledge promising to support the party's eventual nominee.
Here's where the candidates stand:
Ron DeSantis' campaign and the super PAC supporting him have made substantial investments in Iowa, but he has faced some setbacks. In the hours after DeSantis wrapped up his tour of all 99 counties in Iowa on Saturday, news broke of further shakeups at the super PAC supporting him, "Never Back Down."
Kristin Davison, who was named to be the PAC's CEO shortly after Chris Jankowskiin late November, was fired Saturday. Communications director Erin Perrine and operations director Matt Palmisano were also let go that evening, according to sources familiar with the moves. Politico, Semafor and the Associated Press were first to report on the three moves.
Despite his efforts, DeSantis continues to trail front runner and former President Donald Trump by double digits, and former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has been closing in on DeSantis with strong performances in previous debates and a shift toward foreign policy that plays to her strength in that area.
Ramaswamy, the youngest candidate in the field and a political neophyte, has had fiery debate-night clashes with Haley, and there could be more Wednesday night. During the last debate, Haley called the entrepreneur "scum" after he invoked Haley's daughter during a critique of TikTok.
The 2024 race's most vocal critic of Trump, Christie has cast himself as the only Republican willing to take him on directly. Without Trump at the debates, Christie has been left without his intended target but has brought him up nonetheless.
In September, Christie looked directly into the camera and declared that if Trump keeps skipping debates, he would deserve a new nickname: "Donald Duck."
On CBS News' "Face the Nation" with moderator Margaret Brennan Sunday, Christie dismissed polls that show Trump far ahead of the field, despite the lawsuits and indictments in which he's embroiled.
"Let's remember something, in this — in the Republican primary in '07, do you know who was winning at this time in '07? Mitt Romney," he told Brennan. "You know who was winning at this time in '11? Newt Gingrich. And winning this time and '15 was Ben Carson. I don't remember any of those presidencies, Margaret. So, you know, my view, we can't worry about that kind of stuff."
Still, Trump is skipping his fourth straight debate. Instead of going to Alabama he's holding a closed-door campaign fundraiser in Florida.
He has said he's forgoing the primary debates because he does not want to elevate his lower-polling opponents by being onstage with them. He and his campaign have also called on the RNC to cancel the remainder of the debates and instead focus on backing him against President Joe Biden.
Though Sen. Tim Scott participated in the third debate, hesoon afterward, saying that voters "have been really clear that they're telling me, 'Not now, Tim.'"
On Monday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — who didn't qualify for the third debate and wasn't on track for the fourth — suspended his campaign, condemning "the RNC's clubhouse debate requirements" that he argued "are nationalizing the primary process."
He suggested recently that if he had known about the RNC's debate thresholds before announcing his campaign,for president.
"The amount of resources to run a national effort is very different than the resources to run in state," Burgum said last week on a New Hampshire radio show. "And also, you've got a limited amount of time, as well," noting he only entered the race in June.
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