Republicans plan 1st presidential debate for August 23, but there’s no guarantee Trump will attend

CHICAGO (AP) β€” The first Republican presidential debate of 2024 will be held Aug. 23, the Republican National Committee announced Friday, with a second debate the following night if 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. This requirement could prevent some candidates from running, including former President Donald Trump, who has not pledged to support the candidate if he does not make it out of the primary. Trump also questioned why he would participate since he holds a sizable lead in the GOP primary polls.

The debate will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which will also be the site of the party’s nominating convention next year. It’s a nod to the importance of the battleground state, which will likely be key to another presidential victory in 2024.

β€œThe RNC is committed to a fair, neutral and transparent primary process and the qualification criteria set out will place our party and our eventual nominee in the best position to take over the White House in November 2024,” the president said. of the RNC, Ronna McDaniel. .

The list of candidates vying to take on President Joe Biden next year has grown steadily. In addition to Trump, the field includes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and the man of Vivek Ramaswamy cases. Other candidates expected to enter the contest soon include former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

The debate stage can provide the biggest audience yet for many presidential candidates, but it can also trip up candidates. Already, there have been questions about which contestants will participate and what rules the RNC would impose to participate.

Trump has said so far that he won’t promise to back the nominee if someone else wins the nomination, telling radio host Hugh Hewitt, “It should depend on who the nominee was.”

Christie, who plans to launch his campaign in New Hampshire next week, said he would never endorse Trump as the party’s nominee in 2024, as he did in 2016. “No way,” a- he told Axios in March. Advisers did not immediately respond to questions about how Christie would handle the engagement, given his opposition to Trump.

To participate in the Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee, candidates must have received campaign contributions from 40,000 unique donors β€” a relatively high number aimed at winnowing the field. Among other criteria, they must also receive at least 1% support in three national polls or 1% in two national polls and 1% in the first state polls of two separate states. These states are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Surveys must meet certain requirements to be recognized by the RNC.

Candidates must also sign a pledge pledging not to participate in any debates not sanctioned by the RNC during the election cycle.

The RNC said criteria for future debates could include higher thresholds for polls and fundraising. Future dates have not been set.

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Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed.

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