Former President Donald Trump is among the six Republican presidential candidates who has qualified for the first GOP primary debate, yet it’s still not certain whether he will even show up.
Trump met the fundraising threshold set by the Republican National Committee to be invited to the GOP’s first debate, which is scheduled to be held in Milwaukee in August. He joins fellow Republican candidates Tim Scott, Chris Christie, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis – all who also raised enough money to qualify.
While all of these candidates haven’t committed to participating yet, it’s Trump who is the one that seems to be most on the fence. He has made it publicly known that he hasn’t made up his mind yet, saying in recent interviews that it may not benefit him to debate, since he has such a large lead in early polling.
Last weekend, while appearing on Fox News, Trump said:
“Ronald Reagan didn’t do it, and a lot of other people didn’t do it. When you have a big lead, you don’t do it.”
The debate is scheduled to be held on August 23, and all candidates are allowed to tell the RNC whether they plan to participate up until 48 hours prior to the event.
Whether Trump shows up or not will likely determine how the debate will go. If he does participate, it’ll give all of the other GOP candidates a chance to directly challenge him and try to separate themselves in the eyes of voters. If he doesn’t show up, it might be harder for those other candidates to gain any ground.
Thus far, Haley, DeSantis, Ramaswamy and Scott have all confirmed that they plan to attend the GOP primary debate in August. Christie has indicated that he’s very eager to join the debate as well, but he may not be able to participate, due to his reluctance to meet another requirement the RNC has set forth – that all GOP candidates sign a pledge that says they’ll support the eventual Republican nominee.
Christie apparently doesn’t plan to support Trump if he is indeed chosen as the party’s nominee. In speaking with CNN in June, Christie said:
“I’m going to take the pledge just as seriously as Donald Trump took it in 2016.”
Another prominent GOP candidate, former Vice President Mike Pence, has met the threshold for polling. As of now, though, it’s uncertain whether he’ll meet the threshold for individual donors, which is 40,000 unique donors and 200 donors located in 20 different territories or states.
Last week, Pence said he believes he’ll meet those thresholds, saying:
“We will qualify. Getting 40,000 donors in just a few short weeks is a challenge. We’re not offering gift cards, not offering kickbacks or tickets to soccer games, just traveling.”
The RNC has methodological requirements for candidates to qualify for debates. The donor requirement is one, and the fundraising requirement is another.
Each candidate also needs to reach t least 1% in three different national polls, or reach 1% in two national polls, and 1% in two other polls that are conducted outside of the four early primary states.