[Fox News] RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel on the upcoming GOP 2024 presidential debates: ‘This is the Olympic stage’

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The Republican National Committee’s longtime chair says it is only natural that the RNC is upping the ante when it comes to its thresholds for the GOP presidential candidates to reach in order to make the stage at the party’s primary debates.

“You don’t go to the Olympics unless you pass the prelims, right? This is the Olympic stage, the Republican Party primary. And there’s going to be criteria that you have to meet to be on that stage,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel emphasized in an interview Wednesday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

McDaniel spoke three weeks before the first debate, a Fox News-hosted showdown on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

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To make the stage at the first debate, the RNC is requiring candidates to reach 1% in three national polls, or 1% in two national polls and two state-specific surveys from the early voting nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The polls must also be recognized by the RNC and must be conducted on or after July 1.

Additionally, the RNC’s requiring candidates to have 40,000 unique donors to their campaign committee (or exploratory committee), with at least 200 unique donors each in at least 20 states and/or U.S. territories.

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Seven candidates have met both of those criteria. They are former President Donald Trump, the commanding front-runner right now in the GOP nomination race as he makes his third straight White House run, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and biotech entrepreneur, best-selling author and culture wars crusader Vivek Ramaswamy.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have met the polling criteria but have yet to reach the donor threshold.

The RNC announced on Tuesday that it’s raising its thresholds for the second debate, which will be held Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. To make that stage, candidates will need to hit at least 3% in the polls and reach at least 50,000 unique donors.

WHO’S IN AND WHO’S ON THE SIDELINES — YOUR GUIDE TO THE 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACE

Some of the presidential contenders have criticized the RNC’s thresholds, but McDaniel defends her party’s actions.

“We should be stepping up the criteria,” McDaniel told Fox News. “Once you get on the debate stage and you get in front of the American people, if you’re not having momentum, if you’re not showing growth in your campaign, then that’s a problem. And we need to make sure that we are putting in front of the Republican primary voters the candidate who’s going to take on [President] Joe Biden.

The RNC has yet to announce a media partner for the second debate.

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