One day before Republican presidential candidates are set to verbally brawl on stage, the Republican National Committee has announced who made the cut to enter the ring and who was left out.
Eight candidates met the benchmarks to participate: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Those who didn’t qualify include businessman Perry Johnson, radio host Larry Elder, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX), and Texan businessman Ryan Binkley.
The RNC, wary of repeating the unwieldy debate antics of 2015, this time around required candidates to hit at least 1% in three national polls or in a mix of national and early state polls recognized by the committee and have accrued 40,000 individual donors to their campaigns from at least 200 unique donors per state in 20 or more states. During the runup to the 2016 election, so many candidates qualified for the first nationally televised debate that the spectacle was split between two stages so about two dozen candidates could participate.
Elder on Monday announced he intends to sue for inclusion into the debate, arguing his team submitted a “strong, in-depth qualification package” to RNC officials but was unfairly denied by citing Rasmussen polls which the GOP said is too closely tied to President Trump, who has said he will not be participating in Wednesday’s debate.
I intend to sue the RNC to halt Wednesday's presidential debate.
I said from the beginning that it appeared the rules of the game were rigged, little did we know just how rigged it is. For some reason, the establishment leaders at the RNC are afraid of having my voice on the… pic.twitter.com/PX5fnD1Rkn
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) August 22, 2023
By denying Elder a spot on stage, the RNC is effectively shutting out one of the few Black voices running for president within the GOP. The longtime radio host has spoken out against criticism that he needs a “wake-up call” to walk away from the Republican Party at a time when President Trump has attracted significantly more support from Black Americans than previous Republican presidents.
Rather than give his opponents every opportunity to attack him on stage, President Trump has told allies he’s “up by too many points” and will instead sit for a competing interview with Tucker Carlson. The 45th president has good reason to believe he does not need to participate: every major poll in recent months has shown him leading nationally and in early-voting states, with some reaching beyond the critical 50 percent threshold.