The Republican National Committee announced Friday that the first presidential primary debate will take place on August 23 in Milwaukee and also laid out the polling and donor thresholds candidates must meet to make the stage.
For the polling requirement, candidates will need to register at least 1% in three national polls, or a combination of national polls and a poll from the early-voting states recognized by the RNC.
Qualifying candidates will also need “a minimum of 40,000 unique donors to candidate’s principal presidential campaign committee (or exploratory committee), with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in 20+ states and/or territories,” the RNC said in a statement.
The candidates must also sign a pledge “agreeing to support the eventual party nominee,” the committee said.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has publicly supported requiring a so-called loyalty pledge for participation in the GOP debates saying in February it was a “no-brainer.”
“If you’re going to be on the Republican National Committee debate stage asking voters to support you, you should say, ‘I’m going to support the voters and who they choose as the nominee,’” McDaniel told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
Candidates must present these qualifications to the RNC 48 hours before the first debate, which will be hosted by Fox News. The committee also said that “should enough candidates qualify to make it necessary,” a second debate will be held on August 24.
The rules are more stringent than what Democrats required during the 2020 cycle to qualify for their first presidential debate, when candidates had to either register at least 1% in support in three polls from an approved list of pollsters or receive campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 different states.
The Republican requirement for 2024 candidates to meet both the polling and donor threshold could make qualifying difficult for some hopefuls who are struggling to garner 1% in polls or in fundraising.
CNN reported last month that former President Donald Trump, seen as the current front-runner for the GOP nomination, has privately discussed skipping either one or both of the first two Republican presidential primary debates, according to three sources who spoke with him about his plans.
Trump’s advisers pointed to his commanding lead in the polls as one reason for his hesitation. But some close to the former president said it was too early to make a decision either way.
A recent CNN Poll found Trump was the first choice of 53% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters in the primary, roughly doubling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 26%. Other hopefuls or potential candidates were all polling in the single digits, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Shania Shelton, Paul LeBlanc, Kristen Holmes and Ariel Edwards-Levy contributed to this report.
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