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RNC confirms third Republican debate date, tightens stage requirements

The third 2024 GOP presidential primary debate will take place Wednesday, Nov. 8, in Miami, the Republican National Committee confirmed Monday — and candidates will have to step up their performance if they hope to make the stage.

The third debate, co-hosted by NBC News, will go from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET, one hour earlier than the first two verbal jousts, which were co-hosted by Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, respectively.

To qualify for the debate stage, candidates must receive contributions from 70,000 unique donors — up from 50,000 for last month’s second debate — and hit 4% in select polls, up from 3%.

Candidates must also receive at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in at least 20 of those jurisdictions.

White House contenders must also achieve either 4% in two recognized national polls or 4% in one national and 4% in one poll from two of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina — the four states that kick off the 2024 Republican primary calendar.

Currently, only four candidates are averaging 4% or higher in the latest RealClearPolitics aggregate of national polling — former President Donald Trump, who has already announced he intends to skip the debate, plus Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Eight candidates made the stage for the first debate Aug. 23, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — DeSantis, Haley, Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

For the second debate, held Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., the stage was reduced by one as Hutchinson failed to qualify.

The Trump campaign has publicly suggested the RNC scrap future debates due to the 77-year-old’s polling supremacy.

DeSantis is Trump’s closest rival, trailing the front-runner by a whopping 45.4 percentage points, per the latest RealClearPolitics aggregate.

By forgoing the debates, Trump is depriving his lower-polling rivals of an opportunity to contrast themselves with him directly.

Christie, for his part, has hinted at plans to hunt down and confront the front-runner at some point on the campaign trail if he continues to be a debate no-show.

NBC will partner with Salem Radio Network, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and Rumble — the RNC’s streaming partner — for the November debate.

Christie, for his part, has hinted at plans to hunt down and confront the front-runner at some point on the campaign trail if he continues to be a debate no-show.

“NBC News has a long history of fostering conversations with the leaders that seek to shape domestic politics and foreign policy. For us, there is no higher responsibility,” Rebecca Blumenstein, president of NBC News Editorial, said in a statement Monday.

The slate of candidates who qualify for the debate is expected to be announced by the RNC 48 hours in advance.

The first Republican presidential contest — the Iowa Caucuses — is slated for Jan. 15.


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