When is the first 2023 Republican debate? Date, start time, participants in primary event

The Republican National Committee announced in June that the first Republican presidential primary debate will take place in Milwaukee, on Aug. 23.

Along with the first GOP debate of the 2024 election cycle, the Republican National Committee will also hold the party’s nominating convention in Wisconsin next year.

The RNC set forth requirements in June that candidates must meet on status, polling, fundraising and pledging to take part in the debate.

Candidates must poll at least 1% in three national polls or 1% in two national polls and 1% from an early state poll from two “carve out” states recognized by the committee.

Candidates must also have a minimum of 40,000 unique donors part of their presidential campaign committee – with at least 200 unique donors per state – and sign a pledge agreeing to support the eventual party nominee.

While top candidates in the Republican primary polls have qualified for a spot, other lesser-known candidates are struggling to make headway. Some candidates have refused to participate altogether.

WHO’S IN THE FIRST GOP DEBATE? Here’s a rundown of candidates who qualify

Who’s participating in the first GOP presidential primary debate?

Seven candidates say they have met the qualifications for a spot on stage in Milwaukee, as of early August.

  • Donald Trump

  • Ron DeSantis

  • Tim Scott

  • Nikki Haley

  • Vivek Ramaswamy

  • Chris Christie

  • Doug Burgum

Trump has not yet committed to participating in the debate. In June, he threatened to skip the event claiming on Truth Social that Fox News, one of the event’s sponsors, ignored his campaign events.

He suggested to Fox News host Bret Baier on his show “Special Report” in June that he didn’t want to spar with low-polling candidates.

Trump had dinner with top Fox executives at his Bedminster golf club Tuesday, Aug. 1, during which Fox News president Jay Wallace and the network’s chief executive, Suzanne Scott, encouraged him to participate in the debate, CNN and the New York Times reported. Trump did not commit to participating in the event.

Trump has also considered scheduling his own competing event for that night.

DeSantis said in an interview in July with Fox News host Will Cain that he will be on the debate stage regardless of whether Trump joins.

Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president, has met the polling threshold but has not yet received donations from 40,000 unique donors, meaning he has not yet qualified to be on the stage in Milwaukee.

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How to watch the first Republican presidential primary debate

Fox News announced in June the debate will air exclusively on its channel. It will air from 9-11 p.m. ET.

Who is moderating the first Republican presidential primary debate?

The debate will be co-moderated by Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

Why is the debate happening in Milwaukee?

Wisconsin is widely viewed as one of the most politically competitive states in the country, according to Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said that since the presidential election is decided by the electoral count rather than the popular vote, a shift of even a small number of votes in Wisconsin could help determine who is elected.

“Several analysts are already predicting that Wisconsin will the ‘tipping point’ state that decides when one of the tickets crosses the crucial threshold of 270 electoral votes,” Burden said. “For these reasons the major parties and candidates are laser-focused on the Badger State.”

WHY WISCONSIN MATTERS: The first GOP debate is being held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here’s why that matters

Unlike some states such as Georgia and Minnesota, which sometimes have close presidential outcomes, Wisconsin is unique for consistently having tight elections, according to Burden. He said that the margin between two frontrunners was often less than 1% in four of the six elections held between 2000 and 2020, and that only two victories from former President Barack Obama stand out as “sizable wins for one candidate.”

Wisconsin, a key battleground state, was the site of previous debates for both the Democratic and Republican parties in the 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. Former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, has also held many rallies there.

“I am so excited to bring the world into Milwaukee, not just for the Republican Party, but to help businesses and business owners to highlight a bipartisan effort to do great things for this urban community,” Ronna McDaniel, the committee’s chair, told Wisconsin Public Radio.

Contributing: Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY; Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: When is first Republican debate? Date, participants in primary event

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