Which Candidates Qualify for First GOP Debate?

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Some unexpected names have qualified for the first Republican presidential primary debate while others are racing to meet the deadline.

The first debate takes place August 23rd in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and will be hosted by Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

In order to qualify, candidates needed contributions from 40,000 individual donors and at least 1% support in three independent national polls.

One last sticking point is that they must also sign a pledge to back the eventual nominee, which has been met with some resistance.

Six candidates have qualified thus far, but it remains to be seen who will show up and who will sign the pledge.

Donald Trump

The former president easily met the qualifying criteria, but he is not expected to participate in the first few debate.

“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,” Trump said in a recent Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” interview.

“I have a lead of 50 and 60 points in some cases,” he said. “You’re leading people by 50 and 60 points, you say why would you be doing a debate? It’s actually not fair.”

Ron DeSantis

The struggling Florida governor also easily met both donor and polling requirements. He has been enthusiastic about the debates, attacking former President Trump for declining.

“Nobody is entitled to this nomination. You have got to earn the nomination and doing things like The Family Leader event in Iowa, doing things like these debates — they’re important parts of the process,” DeSantis said on “The Howie Carr Show” earlier this month.

Vivek Ramaswamy

After a polling surge that saw him catch up to DeSantis, the entrepreneur is set to take the stage.

“The RNC’s debate stage criteria are stringent but fair,” Ramaswamy said in a recent statement. “If an outsider can clear the bar, politically experienced candidates should be able to as well.”

Nikki Haley

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley declared she had met the requirements at the beginning of the month.

She has been consistently polling about 3% nationally and will seek to use the stage to market herself as a comfortable alternative to DeSantis and Trump.

Tim Scott

The senator from South Carolina has been rather successful in fundraising, coming into the debate with more money than any other outlier candidate at $20 million.

Trump has spoken fondly of Scott and welcomed him into the race after his announcement.

Chris Christie

A surprise inclusion, Christie claims to have met the donor threshold and will squeak by in the polls as well.

However, he has publicly taken issue with the loyalty pledge, stating he will sign it but will not support Trump regardless.

Those Still Struggling

In another somewhat unexpected outcome, former Vice President Mike Pence has not yet qualified due to the donor threshold.

“We make the polling requirement very easily,” former Vice President Mike Pence told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

“But yeah, having 40,000 individual donors, we’re literally working around the clock … I’m confident that we’ll be there,” he said.

Also missing out are former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and current North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

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