RNC Sets Rules for August Debate in Milwaukee

The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced Friday that the first Republican presidential primary debate will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 23.

In order to participate in the August debate, candidates have to meet a list of criteria set by the RNC based on candidate status, polling, fundraising, and candidate pledging.

Criteria based on candidate status include:

  • Be eligible to run (natural born U.S. citizen, resident for 14+ years, 35 years or older).
  • Have declared his or her candidacy.
  • Have an active FEC Form 2 (Statement of Candidacy) filed with the FEC in which they identify as a candidate for the Republican nomination.
  • Have an active FEC Form 1 (Statement of Organization) filed with the FEC designating the candidate’s principal campaign committee.

Criteria based on polling include:

  • Poll at least 1 percent in three national polls or 1 percent in two national polls and 1% in one early state poll from two separate “carve out” states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina) recognized by the RNC.

For a poll to be recognized, according to the RNC, it must:

  • Survey at least 800 registered likely Republican voters through a mix of live calls, integrated voice response, online panels, and/or text message.
  • Not overly weight responses of any individual cohort beyond the margin of the error of the poll.
  • Ask the question on presidential preference prior to any question which may allow potential bias.
  • Not be conducted by a polling company affiliated with a candidate or candidate committee.

Candidates must meet the polling requirement no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate and the polls must be conducted on or after July 1, 2023.

Criteria based on fundraising include:

  • Have a minimum of 40,000 unique donors to a 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.
  • Present this evidence to the RNC no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate.

Criteria based on candidate pledging include:

  • Have signed a pledge agreeing not to participate in any non-RNC sanctioned debate for the remainder of the election cycle.
  • Have signed a pledge agreeing to support the eventual party nominee.
  • Have signed an RNC data-sharing agreement.
  • Present signed pledges and agreement to the RNC no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate.

There will be a second debate on August 24 if there are enough qualified candidates to make a second event necessary, the RNC notes.

“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 in a statement.

Shortly after the RNC released the mandatory criteria for candidates to meet in order to participate in the debate, former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson released a statement condemning certain requirements.

“The RNC should have minimal criteria for the debates in the early stages of this campaign. More choices are better,” Hutchinson stated. “I have always supported the party nominee, but I have never supported a party loyalty oath. The pledge should simply be that you will not run as a third party candidate.”

He added, “The 40,000 donor threshold will keep some candidates from being on the debate stage and benefit candidates who generate online donations through extreme rhetoric and scare tactics. It also deprives the voters in Iowa and other early states of an opportunity to evaluate the entire field of candidates.”

“I do intend to be on the debate stage because it is important,” Hutchinson concluded.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “2016 RNC Republican Debate” by Walt Disney Television. CC BY-ND 2.0. 




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