Vivek Ramaswamy hits donor threshold for first GOP presidential debate

Entrepreneur and GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he had met Republican Party donor requirements and was confident he would get a high enough poll to be on stage in the party’s first debate next month.

In order to qualify for the debate stage in Milwaukee on Aug. 23, candidates must register at least 1% support in three national polls, or 1% in two national polls and two separate state early polls. The ballots must be recognized by the Republican National Committee. It is not yet clear whether there have been enough party-recognized polls, but Ramaswamy has consistently garnered mid single-digit to low double-digit support in recent polls.

The RNC also requires “a minimum of 40,000 unique donors to the candidate’s main presidential campaign committee (or exploratory committee), with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in more than 20 states and/or territories” to qualify.

Candidates will also be required to sign a loyalty pledge pledging to support the party’s eventual candidate in the general election.

Ramaswamy reached 65,000 unique donors, 40% of whom would have been “first-time donors to the Republican Party or any political party”, according to a senior adviser to his campaign.

The entrepreneur had an unusual tactic to attract donors, launching an effort to give bundlers who raise funds for his campaign 10% of what they receive from other donors.

After launching his presidential bid in late February, Ramaswamy bombarded early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire and rose to third place in several national polls. The last CBS News/YouGov Survey shows Ramaswamy polling 13% among likely Republican primary voters for president.

The latest Kaplan Strategies poll shows him tied for second place with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 12%. Former President Donald Trump has led by substantial margins in early polls.

Ramaswamy is the sixth candidate to pass the donor threshold for the first debate, which will be hosted by Fox News.

DeSantis, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley have also attracted enough donor support to reach debate stage.

Trump also met the fundraising criteria to participate, but hinted that he planned to skip the debate.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Trump said, “When you have a big lead, you don’t.”

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News earlier this week that it would be “a mistake” for Trump to miss the proceedings. She said she urged him to engage with his competitors on stage.

“You want to win the nomination, you have to show up in front of those primary voters,” she said.

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