Four Republican candidates will take the stage in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday night for the fourth GOP primary debate: former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former president Donald Trump will once again skip the event.
To participate in the debate, candidates had to meet the Republican National Committee’s debate requirements of at least 80,000 unique donors, with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in at least 20 states or territories, and garnering at least 6 percent in two approved national polls or 6 percent in one national poll and 6 percent in polls of two different early-primary states.
Haley has emerged as the most viable alternative candidate to Trump in recent weeks, surpassing or tying DeSantis for second place in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Last week, she won the endorsement of the political network led by conservative billionaire Charles Koch. DeSantis’s campaign and the super PAC supporting him have faced recent drama, with the PAC that has overseen much of his presidential operation firing its CEO less than two weeks after the previous chief executive resigned.
With the Iowa caucuses just six weeks away, Christie and Haley have both made inroads with independents and anti-Trump Republicans voters, but the overlapping pool of supporters complicates both of their paths in New Hampshire. Haley currently is polling second in the state, but Christie is pulling more than 10 percent of potential primary voters — a share that could prove essential to GOP consolidation efforts against Trump.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum suspended his campaign on Monday, after failing to qualify for the last debate. In a statement announcing his suspension, he took aim at the RNC debate requirements and primary process, arguing they are “taking the power of democracy away from the engaged, thoughtful citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire’ and claiming the “arbitrary criteria ensure advantages for candidates from major media markets on the coasts versus America’s Heartland.”
Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson also did not qualify, having failed to make the cutoff for the last two debates.