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RNC sets fourth Republican primary debate for Alabama next month

The Republican National Committee announced Thursday that the fourth GOP presidential primary debate will be held in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Dec. 6 — and the hurdles will be higher for candidates who hope to make the stage.

“I am thrilled to announce that the RNC has sanctioned the fourth Republican primary debate in Alabama with NewsNation, The Megyn Kelly Show, the Washington Free Beacon, and Rumble as our partners,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.

“With less than a year out from Election Day 2024, the fourth debate stage will showcase our winning Republican agenda against Biden’s record of failure.”

The five aspiring debate participants will need to reach at least 6% in two recognized national polls or 6% in one national poll and 6% in polls of at least two of four key early voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina.

Those surveys must be independent of any campaign, include at least 800 registered likely Republican voters and avoid bias by first asking respondents for their preferred presidential candidate.

Debate contenders must also have 80,000 unique campaign donors, with at least 200 per jurisdiction from 20 or more US states or territories.

They also are required to sign a pledge agreeing to not participate in non-RNC sanctioned debates for the rest of the election cycle and a pledge committing their support for the party’s eventual nominee.

The deadline for meeting the debate criteria will be Dec. 4, when the RNC is expected to confirm the lineup.

Candidates will then be arranged on stage based on their polling numbers, with the presidential hopeful with the highest support placed at center stage.

Former President Donald Trump has yet to announce whether he will attend after taking shots from candidates last night for his absence at the first three debates.

His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson didn’t make the cut for the third Republican presidential debate but have declined to drop out of the race.

Former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his 2024 presidential campaign Oct. 28, telling attendees at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s leadership conference last month that it was “not my time.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson didn’t make the cut for the third Republican presidential debate but have declined to drop out of the race.

Trump is currently leading the GOP primary field by more than 40 percentage points, with 58.5% support in national polls, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

He is followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a distant second at 14.4%, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at 9%, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at 4.7%, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 2.6% and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) at 2.5%, the aggregator shows. Burgum and Hutchinson are polling beneath 1%.

An event space has yet to be announced in Alabama, but NewsNation host Elizabeth Vargas, SiriusXM’s Megyn Kelly and the Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Eliana Johnson will moderate.

In addition to NewsNation on cable, the debate will also air live in the Eastern and Central time zones on the CW Network from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET.

Viewers in the Mountain and Pacific time zones can catch a tape-delayed rebroadcast on the CW at 7 p.m. MT and 8 p.m. PT, respectively.

“It will be the margarita of debates — spicy, fun and somewhat intoxicating. Looking forward to it,” Kelly said in a statement.

“The Free Beacon is excited to partner with The Megyn Kelly Show and NewsNation to offer the candidates a debate platform outside of the mainstream media echo chamber and to give Republican primary voters a debate where conservative ideas and values will be the terrain and not the target,” added Johnson.

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