The debate stage for the 2024 Republican presidential primary is limited to seven candidates, the Republican National Committee announced Monday, and the party’s front-runner, former President Donald Trump, who attempted a coup to seize office after his defeat in 2020 remain, will not be represented again.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina will take part in Wednesday night’s second primary debate after meeting the 3% polling threshold and the 50,000 individual donor qualifying requirement.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson qualified for the first debate on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, which had a 1% voting floor and a threshold of 40,000 unique donors, but failed to make the stage for the second Debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Trump and his aides said that because he is so far ahead of his rivals in the polls, he doesn’t believe he needs to debate them to win the nomination.
The third debate, scheduled for Nov. 8 in Miami, has even stricter requirements: Candidates must poll 4% in statewide polls or a combination of early state polls and have raised money from at least 70,000 different donors.
Candidates must also have signed a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee, although it is unclear how that might be enforced.
Christie, for example, at the last debate refused to support Trump if he were the nominee and ended up convicted of a crime. Nevertheless, the former Trump ally is allowed to take part on Wednesday. He had previously said he would only take the pledge as seriously as Trump took it in 2016.
Eight years ago, Trump signed the pledge of support at the urging of then-party leader Reince Priebus, but then hours later said he would not keep it if the party treated him badly. In early 2016, Trump said the party had treated him badly and that he would no longer support the candidate if it were anyone else. In the end, he still secured the nomination and later the presidency.
Trump is currently facing four different criminal charges, two of which stem from his attempted coup that culminated in the deadly attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Still, he remains the front-runner for the 2024 nomination in both national polls and those in states voting early in the primary process.