June 19, 2024


The second Republican presidential primary debate hosted by Fox News at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Wednesday, September 27, 2023.

Melina Mara | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Five candidates will be on the stage Wednesday night at the third GOP presidential debate in Miami, but North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum fell short after having made the first two Republican debates this year.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina all qualified for the Wednesday debate, the Republican National Committee said in a statement. Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is skipping another debate.

The five qualified candidates all met the RNC’s criteria, including having accrued at least 70,000 unique donors and meeting a minimum polling requirement (at least 4% in two national polls or one national and one early-state poll that meet RNC requirements). The candidates also had to sign pledges, including one to support the Republican Party’s eventual nominee.

Trump, who also skipped the first two debates, easily surpassed the donor and polling requirements, according to NBC News’ analysis. But he has so far refused to sign the party pledges, which he must do to qualify. He has held campaign or media events on his own during the previous two debates and has a campaign rally scheduled for Wednesday, as well.

NBC News is hosting the debate, which will air from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET Wednesday from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. The RNC also selected Salem Radio Network and the Republican Jewish Coalition as partners for the debate

“We are looking forward to our third debate in Miami, a welcome opportunity for our candidates to showcase our winning conservative agenda to the American people,” RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “We are especially honored to be the first political party to partner with a Jewish organization for a debate in our partnership with the Republican Jewish Coalition, and our candidates will reaffirm the Republican Party’s unwavering support of Israel and the Jewish community on the stage Wednesday night.”

Burgum’s hurdle was the national polling threshold, according to an NBC News analysis of public polling, after he said last month that his campaign had met the donor threshold for the third debate. He has previously criticized the RNC’s debate criteria as “clubhouse rules,” and he has indicated he plans to stay in the presidential race through the early-state contests.

“Skipping the next debate isn’t going to stop us. I’ve been told ‘it’s impossible,’ my entire life and always beat the odds,” Burgum wrote in a social media post Monday night, adding, “Now, DC insiders are trying to stop me from fighting for you! It’s not gonna work. Party bosses don’t pick presidents – voters do!”

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Burgum is one of two candidates from the second debate who will be absent from the stage this time. Former Vice President Mike Pence dropped out of the race in a speech in Las Vegas last month.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is also missing out on his second straight GOP debate. He qualified for the first debate in Milwaukee but then failed to make the second debate in Southern California.

A number of other candidates who have failed to make past debates this year have already dropped out, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, conservative radio host Larry Elder and Michigan businessman Perry Johnson.


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