RNC Reveals Tough Debate Rules: Will Trump Even Qualify?

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has finally revealed the qualifying criteria for presidential candidates for the upcoming primary debates. According to the RNC statement, the candidates must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, aged 35 years or older, and have been residents of the country for at least 14 years to be eligible. Furthermore, the candidates must have declared their candidacy, have an active Statement of Candidacy filed with the FEC, have an active Statement of Organization designating the candidate’s principal campaign committee, and at least 40,000 unique donors to their campaign committee with at least 200 donors per state or territory in over 20 states and/or territories.

The candidates must also meet the polling criteria, which requires them to poll at least 1% in three national polls or 1% in two national polls and one early state poll from two separate “carve-out” states recognized by the RNC. The polls must survey at least 800 registered likely Republican voters through a mix of calls, integrated voice response, online panels, and/or text messages. The polls must also not overly weight responses, ask the presidential preference question prior to any question that may allow potential bias, and cannot be conducted by polling companies affiliated with a candidate or the candidate committee. The polling requirement must be met no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate and must be conducted on or after July 1, 2023.

To qualify for future debates, the RNC may increase the fundraising and polling threshold. The candidates must also have signed a pledge agreeing not to participate in any non-RNC sanctioned debate for the remainder of the election cycle, a pledge agreeing to support the party nominee, and an RNC data-sharing agreement. The signed pledges and agreement must be presented to the RNC no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said, “The RNC is committed to putting on a fair, neutral, and transparent primary process, and the qualifying criteria set forth will put our party and eventual nominee in the best position to take back the White House come November 2024.” It is evident that the RNC has made every effort possible to ensure that they can offer their voters a fair and neutral selection process.

The current front runner in the GOP candidacy race, former President Donald Trump, may not qualify to participate in the debates, given the stringent requirements. Additionally, Trump has not committed to supporting the candidate who emerges victorious if he loses the nomination. Trump has also indicated he may skip the early debates.

The RealClearPolitics average of national polling shows that six Republicans are currently above 1%, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, former US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Only Pence has not officially announced his candidacy, though he is expected to launch it on Wednesday.

Overall, the RNC has done an excellent job in establishing fair and transparent criteria for candidates to participate in the primary debates, which will ensure a level playing field for all contenders.

Written by Staff Reports

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