Francis Suarez suggests he may drop out of the presidential race if he doesn’t make the GOP debate

DES MOINES, Iowa — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez indicated Friday he would drop out of the race for the presidency if he doesn’t qualify for the first GOP primary debate.

“If you can’t meet the minimum thresholds, you shouldn’t be trying to take time and volume away from people that do,” he said during a press conference at the Iowa State Fair, adding, “I don’t think candidates should just sort of linger around if they don’t have a credible path.”

The first Republican debate will take place Aug. 23 in Milwaukee. To make the debate stage, candidates must have at least 40,000 unique donors — a hurdle Suarez says he’s cleared.

But candidates must also register at least 1% in two national polls and 1% in two polls from separate early states, or at least 1% in three qualifying national polls, conducted after July 1. Suarez does not appear to have hit those yet.

“I think the minimum threshold is fair,” Suarez said. “One of the things that I think is a bit unfair is that there’s a lot of polls that I haven’t been in, and it’s a disadvantage.”

Not being listed as an option in polls is a common gripe among long-shot candidates, including Ryan Binkley, another GOP presidential contender.

Despite hinting that he may drop out if he does not make the stage, Suarez said he is confident he will make both the first debate and the one after that in September, which has a polling threshold of 3%.

When talking about how he would perform if he makes the first debate, he said, “I think I’ll come out of that debate already making the next debate threshold, which is 3%.”

“I don’t think you can sort of gimmick your way there,” Suarez said.

When NBC News asked him if he was using gimmicks to make the first debate after raffling soccer tickets to watch Lionel Messi play in exchange for campaign contributions, Suarez said he did what he needed to do to compete with name-brand Republicans.

“The people who I’m running against right now are national figures for many, many years,” he said. “I’ve been a national figure for 60 days.”

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