Mike Pence Qualifies For First Republican Primary Debate

Mary Lou Masters 

Former Vice President Mike Pence has met the Republican National Committee’s (RNC’s) first debate requirements to make the stage on Aug. 23, according to a Tuesday campaign press release.

The RNC is requiring candidates meet a 40,000 unique donor threshold, polling criteria and sign a loyalty pledge to support the eventual nominee in order to make the first debate stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Pence’s presidential campaign announced it had surpassed the donor requirement, and said it met the criteria faster than former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, according to the press release.

“Mike Pence made quick and easy work of the donor threshold and he’s looking forward to a substantive debate about the issues important to the American people,” communications adviser Devin O’Malley said in a statement. “Hopefully, former President Trump has the courage to show up.”

Former President Donald Trump has met the RNC’s donor and polling requirement, but has yet to say whether he will attend the first debate. Trump has been considering skipping the first two debates, and instead holding a countering event.

Pence’s campaign became the first of the 2024 GOP hopefuls to officially submit the verification of its donor count to the RNC, according to the press release. The committee also requires that candidates garner at least 200 unique donors from 20 states or territories, and Pence’s campaign announced it had received the minimum from 40 states.

Candidates also have to meet a polling threshold in surveys recognized by the RNC, like having a sample size of at least 800 likely GOP primary voters that is conducted on or after July 1. Within 48 hours of the first debate, GOP hopefuls must be polling at a minimum of 1% in three national polls, or 1% in two national polls and in two key early primary state polls – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina.

The RealClearPolitics (RCP) average for a 2024 national Republican primary indicates that Pence has 5.1% support. The former vice president is also polling at 3% in Iowa, 2% in New Hampshire, 2% in Nevada and 4% in South Carolina.

The RNC recently upped its requirements for the second debate on Sep. 27 in Simi Valley, California, which will likely hinder longshot presidential contenders from making the stage. Candidates will now have to surpass 50,000 unique donors, and must poll at 3% in two national primary polls, or 3% in one national poll and in two key early primary state polls; surveys must be conducted on or after Aug. 1.

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