GOP Schedules 1st Presidential Debate 06/03 08:05
CHICAGO (AP) -- The first 2024 Republican presidential debate will be held
Aug. 23, the Republican National Committee announced Friday, with a second
debate the following night should it be needed.
The RNC also detailed the criteria that will be used for candidates to
qualify for the debate stage, including a pledge to support the eventual
Republican presidential nominee. That requirement could keep some candidates
off the stage, including former President Donald Trump, who hasn't committed to
supporting the nominee if he doesn't emerge from the primary. Trump also has
questioned why he would participate since he holds a commanding lead in GOP
The debate will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which also will be the site
of the party's nominating convention next year. It's a nod to the importance of
the battleground state, which is likely to be key to a presidential victory
again in 2024.
"The RNC is committed to putting on a fair, neutral, and transparent primary
process and the qualifying criteria set forth will put our party and eventual
nominee in the best position to take back the White House come November 2024,"
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said.
The list of candidates vying to face President Joe Biden next year has been
growing. In addition to Trump, the field includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis,
former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Other candidates
expected to get into the contest soon include former Vice President Mike Pence,
ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
The debate stage can provide the largest audience yet for many presidential
hopefuls, but it also can trip up candidates. Already, there have been
questions about which candidates will take part and what rules the RNC would
impose in order to participate.
Trump has said so far that he wouldn't promise to support the nominee if
someone else wins the nomination, telling radio host Hugh Hewitt, "It would
have to depend on who the nominee was."
Christie, who plans to launch his campaign in New Hampshire next week, has
said he would never support Trump as the party's 2024 nominee, as he did in
2016. "No way," he told Axios in March. Advisers did not immediately respond to
questions about how Christie would handle the pledge, given his opposition to
Hutchinson, also a Trump critic, said Friday he plans to be on the debate
stage. But he criticized the RNC for requiring the "loyalty oath," saying the
pledge should be only that a participant won't run as a third-party candidate.
"The RNC should have minimal criteria for the debates in the early stages of
this campaign," Hutchinson said. "More choices are better."
To participate in the Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee, candidates must have
received campaign contributions from 40,000 unique donors -- a relatively high
number aimed at winnowing the field. Hutchinson was critical, saying it
"benefits candidates who generate online donations through extreme rhetoric and
Among other debate criteria, participants also must receive at least 1%
support in three national polls or 1% in two national polls and 1% in early
state polls from two separate states. Those states are Iowa, New Hampshire,
Nevada and South Carolina. The polls must meet certain requirements to be
recognized by the RNC.
Candidates also must sign a pledge agreeing not to participate in any
non-RNC-sanctioned debate during the election cycle.
The RNC said criteria for future debates may include higher thresholds for
polling and fundraising. Future dates have not been set.