The Seven Candidates Who Have Qualified for Second Republican Presidential Debate
The field for the second Republican presidential debate will be smaller than the first.
Seven candidates have qualified for Wednesday night’s debate at Ronald Reagan’s presidential library in California, the Republican National Committee said, confirming that former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not make the cut this time.
Former President Donald Trump, the early Republican presidential front-runner who skipped the first debate, will also be missing from the stage and will instead hold events in the battleground state of Michigan.
To qualify for the second debate, candidates needed at least 3% support in two national polls or 3% in one national poll as well as two polls from four of the early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
The White House hopefuls also needed at least 50,000 unique donors, with at least 200 of those coming from 20 states or territories. They also had to sign an RNC pledge promising to support the party’s eventual nominee.
A look at where the candidates stand:
The Florida governor had long been seen as the top rival for Trump, finishing a distant second to the current GOP front-runner in both early-voting state and national polls, and raising an impressive amount of money.
But those sands have begun to shift as DeSantis’ effort has struggled to live up to high expectations for his campaign. Republican support for him nationally has slipped substantially from its high point earlier this year.
The senator from South Carolina did not have a breakout moment in the first debate in Milwaukee and is hoping to change that during Wednesday’s event.
Wanting to be a bigger part of the conversation, Scott asked the party to change how it orders the candidates onstage in an effort to get more prominent podium placement. There is no indication the RNC plans to do that.
The only Republican woman on stage — and in the field — Haley experienced a fundraising bounce after her performance in the first debate. Her campaign said she raised at least $1 million in 72 hours, a record period for her.
Two recent polls of her home state of South Carolina found that Haley — a former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor — was in second place, well behind Trump but slightly ahead of other GOP rivals.
During one squabble in the first GOP debate, Haley cut in with a reference to a famous line from Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister: “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
The political newcomer scored several memorable moments at the first debate, criticizing some rivals as “super PAC puppets” who were using “ready-made, preprepared slogans” to attack him. He was a frequent target of incoming attacks on his lack of experience.
Those jabs helped boost both Ramaswamy’s campaign coffers and his name ID in the broad Republican field.
The former New Jersey governor opened his campaign by portraying himself as the only candidate ready to take on Trump, calling on the former president to “show up at the debates and defend his record.”
Without Trump at the first debate, Christie was left without his primary intended target. At times, he was drowned out by the audience’s boos as he pushed back aggressively on questioning as to whether the candidates would support Trump even if he is convicted of felony charges.
Burgum, a former software entrepreneur now in his second term as North Dakota’s governor, nearly missed the first debate due to a tendon injury sustained while playing basketball with his campaign staff. But Burgum still participated, telling reporters afterward that he stood on one leg behind the podium.
Burgum has been using his fortune to boost his campaign, giving away $20 gift cards — “Biden Relief Cards,” hitting Biden’s handling of the economy — in exchange for $1 donations. Critics have questioned whether the offer violates campaign finance law.
Campaigning on his reputation as a statesman and experienced elected official, Trump’s vice president showed off his debate chops last month and is angling to see more action in California.
Pence had combative moments with several other candidates in Milwaukee over some of the biggest dividing lines in the Republican nominating contest.
Drawing a contrast with Haley over abortion, among his signature issues, Pence called Haley’s push for consensus over the issue “the opposite of leadership.” Perhaps some of Pence’s fieriest moments came as he sparred with Ramaswamy, saying, “Now is not the time for on-the-job training.”
Pence himself was also the subject of a pivotal debate question, with the candidates largely agreeing that he had been correct to protect the results of the 2020 election against Trump’s pressure campaign.
WHO DECIDED NOT TO PARTICIPATE (AGAIN)
The current GOP front-runner is skipping his second straight debate, this time opting to meet with union workers in Michigan. He will give a speech shortly before his rivals take the stage in California.
Last month, Trump conducted an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that aired on X around the same time the first debate began.
Trump has said he does not want to elevate his lower-polling opponents by participating in a debate against them.
WHO MADE IT LAST TIME BUT NOT THIS TIME
The former two-term Arkansas governor was the final candidate to meet the RNC’s qualifications for the first debate, posting pleas on Twitter for $1 donations to help secure his slot in Milwaukee, but he didn’t meet the heightened criteria to participate in the second.
Instead of the debate, he’ll be in Michigan on Wednesday, holding a press conference his campaign describes as “calling out Donald Trump’s false promises.”