Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have qualified for the third Republican presidential debate, set for Nov. 8 in Miami.
On the outside looking in as of Nov. 2, four days before the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) deadline to qualify for a podium on the debate stage—and 74 days to the Iowa caucuses—are North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and Texas pastor and business owner Ryan Binkley.
As with the first two debates, former President Donald Trump, far and away the front-runner for a third consecutive GOP presidential nomination, won’t participate. As with the first two debates, he will appear at a concurrent event—a campaign rally in Hialeah, 15 miles from Miami.
Chris LaCivita, senior adviser to the Trump campaign, has repeatedly urged the RNC to pull the plug on the debates and “quit wasting time and money” and instead focus the party’s attention on defeating President Joe Biden in November 2024.
In posts on Truth Social, President Trump has essentially said his commanding lead in polls means the nomination race is over and the debates “seem to be a complete waste of time.”
The five GOP hopefuls on the Nov. 8 debate stage apparently think otherwise in what is essentially a contest to be the lead primary alternate to President Trump.
That battle for second place appears to be crystallizing between Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley, who are polling neck-and-neck in varied surveys, with neither tallying more than 16 percent.
The difference, however, is that Mr. DeSantis is stagnating and even slipping in polls, but Ms. Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, is slowly ascending.
Mr. Ramaswamy, who had waffled on attending the third debate before committing, has been the most outspoken in the first two debates but has seen enthusiasm for his campaign wane in recent months, registering single digits in surveys.
DeSantis Versus Haley Versus Ramaswamy
The RNC raised the bar for 2024 GOP candidates to qualify for the third presidential debate. Republican candidates must register 4 percent or higher in at least two national polls since Sept. 30 or garner 4 percent support in one national poll and two different state polls. The polling threshold for the second debate, on Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, was 3 percent.
To qualify for the third debate, candidates must also have at least 70,000 “unique” donors, including at least 200 each from at least 20 states. That bar was set at 50,000 donors for the second debate.
Since the second debate, former Vice President Mike Pence and Michigan business owner Perry Johnson have ended their presidential campaigns.
“It’s become clear to me: This is not my time,” Mr. Pence said at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering in Las Vegas on Oct. 28.
“So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today.”
Mr. Johnson dropped out on Oct. 20.
“With no opportunity to share my vision on the debate stage, I have decided at this time, suspending my campaign is the right thing to do,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Scott was the fifth candidate to qualify for the third debate. His campaign announced on Oct. 31 that he had met the thresholds and would participate.
Mr. Burgum has met the money and signed pledged requirements but not the polling numbers—he says he can do so by Nov. 6—and Mr. Hutchinson met the signed pledge element but not the other thresholds.
Mr. Binkley hasn’t met any of the requirements.
Mr. Burgum’s Best of America PAC in a Nov. 1 statement said it was optimistic about his showing in the polls, pointing to his gain of 1 percentage point in a recent Iowa poll to nudge near 3.5 percent.
“While other candidates are losing steam and being forced to abandon their campaigns,” PAC spokesperson Emily Benavides said, “Governor Burgum continues to steadily rise in early state polling thanks to our effective TV and voter contact program.”
The Nov. 8 debate is set for 8–10 p.m. local time at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Lester Holt and Kristen Welker of NBC News and conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt will moderate it.
As of Nov. 2, the RNC hasn’t announced plans for a fourth debate.
With the holiday season nearing, it is unlikely to schedule any more until early January, before the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses formally kick off the 2024 election cycle.