These 7 candidates qualified for the second GOP debate. Why Asa Hutchinson didn’t qualify this time.

WASHINGTON – The Republican National Committee has finalized the list of candidates who will hit the stage Wednesday in Simi Valley, Calif., for the second GOP debate − and not every presidential hopeful made the cut.

Seven candidates made it: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who qualified for the first debate, did not make the stage this time.

Former GOP Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, pastor Ryan Binkley, radio host Larry Elder and businessman Perry Johnson did not qualify for the first or second debate.

The Republican frontrunner also won’t be on the stage Wednesday. Former President Donald Trump, who didn’t attend the first debate, is skipping the second debate.

Why Asa Hutchinson didn’t qualify for the second GOP debate

To qualify, candidates must have a minimum of 50,000 unique donors and poll at least 3% in two national polls or 3% in one national poll and 3% in one early state poll from two “carve out” states recognized by the committee. They must also have signed the “Beat Biden” pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee.

Hutchinson, a vocal critic of Trump who was the last to qualify for the first primary debate, struggled to meet headway with the requirements this time around. While he polled at least 3% in one national poll, he still needed one more national or state poll to qualify, according to a Politico analysis.

In a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Hutchinson wrote that despite falling short of the requirements, he will continue his campaign “to bring out the best of America with events scheduled in Iowa, New Hampshire, and across the country in the next several weeks.”

“My goal is to increase my polling numbers to 4% in an early state before Thanksgiving,” Hutchinson wrote. “If that goal is met, then I remain competitive and in contention for either Caucus Day or Primary Day.”

Meanwhile, Trump last month said in a Truth Social post he would skip the primary debates, citing his big lead in the polls, and said in an interview that he wouldn’t sign the “Beat Biden” pledge. His campaign confirmed he will visit the Detroit area Wednesday to speak with striking autoworkers.

The second primary debate will take place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, Calif., and will be hosted by FOX Business, Univision and Rumble.

“Given the challenges and opportunities facing our country, there is no better place for presidential contenders to make their case as they honor the man — Ronald Reagan — who rebuilt America’s military and economy, and changed the world,” said David Trulio, President and CEO of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in a press release.

Candidates are likely to change their techniques and where they focus their attacks during the two-hour event that night. For example, DeSantis, who trails behind Trump in the primary polls, could take aim at the GOP frontrunner while Ramaswamy will likely take center stage again over his lack of political experience.

Haley, who surpassed Pence in some national polls after her performance in the first debate, will likely face scrutiny from her rivals while Christie will convey his anti-Trump perspective on stage as a topic in the debate will likely focus on the former president’s indictments.

Pence, Scott and Burgum will likely seek big breakout moments to boost their image among voters.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: These 7 candidates qualified for the second GOP debate on Sept. 27

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