The Republican Presidential Debate Narrows to Five Contenders

by Sophia Chen
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Republican presidential debate

In the upcoming third Republican presidential debate, the stage will host the fewest candidates thus far in the race. Only five candidates have met the stringent criteria to partake in the event scheduled for Wednesday evening at Miami-Dade County’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

The Republican National Committee has announced the requirements for participation: candidates must secure a minimum of 4% in two national polls or 4% in one national poll and in two polls from any of the following early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. The polls must be recognized by the RNC. Additionally, contenders must gather support from at least 70,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 200 donors from at least 20 different states or territories. Moreover, a pledge to endorse the eventual nominee of the party was mandatory for all candidates.

Political observers note that the increasing thresholds for debate inclusion have posed significant challenges for many campaigns. Former Vice President Mike Pence, for instance, ended his campaign last month, precluding the possibility of not meeting the debate qualifications.

A snapshot of the candidate standings is as follows:

Confirmed Participants:

Ron DeSantis: The Governor of Florida quickly emerged as a significant competitor against Donald Trump, consistently placing second in early state and national polling. His financial fundraising prowess has been notable. With his campaign staff recently redeployed to Iowa, DeSantis is betting on the state to position himself as the viable Trump alternative, underscored by his recent endorsement from Governor Kim Reynolds.

Tim Scott: Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina aims to capitalize on the debates to invigorate his campaign, which has yet to take off like his competitors. His eligibility for the Miami debate was uncertain due to the more stringent polling requirements. Scott’s campaign manager, in a strategic memo, has suggested Scott will question how other candidates, notably DeSantis and Haley, could differentiate themselves from Trump when they owe their political ascents to him.

Nikki Haley: The sole female Republican on stage has seen a surge in visibility after the previous debates, with foreign policy becoming a more prominent campaign issue following an unexpected attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7. Haley’s direct confrontations with DeSantis on various topics, including the Israel-Hamas conflict and China’s global role, set the stage for a potentially heated exchange during the debate.

Vivek Ramaswamy: The youngest and a political outsider in the GOP race, Ramaswamy has faced criticism for his inexperience. However, such attacks have historically aided his fundraising efforts and elevated his profile. After the second debate, he unsuccessfully petitioned the RNC to alter the third debate’s rules, advocating for a four-candidate limit and an increased donor threshold.

Chris Christie: The ex-Governor of New Jersey has taken a unique approach by focusing on New Hampshire, in contrast to other candidates who have concentrated on Iowa. Christie has been the most outspoken critic of Trump, positioning himself as the only Republican ready to confront him directly. He argues that Trump’s nomination would guarantee a loss to President Joe Biden. Christie has continued to invoke Trump’s absence from the debates, even coining the moniker “Donald Duck” in response to Trump’s debate no-shows.

Candidates Opting Out:

Donald Trump: The current frontrunner in the GOP continues to abstain from the debates, electing instead to host a simultaneous event in Hialeah, Florida. Trump has stated his absence is to avoid giving his lower-polling rivals a platform.

Candidates Who Missed the Cut:

Doug Burgum: The North Dakota Governor and former software entrepreneur did not meet the polling prerequisites, causing him to miss what would be his first debate of the cycle.

Asa Hutchinson: Having participated in the initial debate, the former Arkansas Governor did not qualify for the second. He expressed intentions to bolster his poll numbers in a critical early state by Thanksgiving, setting his sights on remaining competitive for the primaries.

For more information, journalist Meg Kinnard can be reached through her Twitter handle @MegKinnardAP.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Republican presidential debate

How many candidates will participate in the third Republican presidential debate?

Five candidates have met the criteria to participate in the third Republican presidential debate.

What are the requirements to qualify for the third Republican presidential debate?

Candidates needed at least 4% support in two national polls or 4% in one national poll and in two early-voting state polls, 70,000 unique donors with a minimum of 200 from 20 states or territories, and they had to sign an RNC pledge to support the eventual nominee.

Who are the candidates confirmed for the third Republican presidential debate?

The confirmed candidates are Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie.

What has been Donald Trump’s stance regarding the debates?

Donald Trump has chosen to skip the debates, opting to hold his own event instead, stating he does not wish to give a platform to his lower-polling opponents.

Which candidates did not make the cut for the third debate and why?

Doug Burgum and Asa Hutchinson did not meet the heightened polling requirements, thus failing to qualify for the third debate.

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