Four candidates narrow down GOP debate stage

The Republican National Committee announced on Monday that this week’s GOP presidential primary debate will feature the smallest stage to date, with only four candidates participating on Wednesday night.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have all met the criteria to participate in the upcoming debate in Alabama. The debate, which will be hosted by NewsNation, “The Megyn Kelly Show” on SiriusXM, and The Washington Free Beacon, promises to be a compelling event.

Christie managed to meet the RNC’s requirements just in time before Monday night’s deadline. He achieved a minimum of 6% in both national and early-state polls, as well as reaching the necessary 80,000 unique donors. Christie’s campaign had previously announced that he had met the donor requirement.

Former President Donald Trump has decided to skip the debate once again. Instead, he will be making an appearance at a town hall on Fox News on Tuesday and will be hosting a private fundraiser on Wednesday.

According to the most recent NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, conducted in late October, a majority of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers do not consider Trump’s decision to skip the debates as a significant factor. However, 42% of the respondents believe that he should participate in at least one debate before the caucuses.

Trump has managed to maintain his dominance in the GOP primary campaign, despite not engaging directly with his opponents. Based on previous debates, it is likely that the candidates will focus on attacking each other rather than targeting Trump, who currently holds the top position in the polls.

The 8 p.m. ET debate could serve as another chance for Haley to boost her visibility. Thanks to her impressive debate performances, she has experienced a surge in public polls and gained support from key GOP donors, including Americans for Prosperity, who are backed by the well-funded Koch network.

“The fourth debate presents an excellent opportunity for our Republican candidates to communicate our winning agenda to the American people,” stated RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel when announcing the participants for Wednesday’s event.

“Nearly 40 years ago, President Reagan made history as the first sitting president to visit the University of Alabama. His visit took place just before he secured a resounding victory in the 1984 election. Now, I am excited to follow in his footsteps and bring our conservative message back to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday night,” she exclaimed.

With just over a month to go before the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, it remains uncertain if there will be another Republican debate. However, all eyes are now focused on Iowa as candidates like Haley and Trump’s other opponents make it their primary target.

During an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that aired on Sunday, DeSantis expressed his confidence in winning the Iowa caucuses. He dismissed any notion of dropping out of the race before the caucuses as “absurd.”

Ramaswamy expressed his intention to bring the same level of openness and honesty to the fourth debate as he has in previous debates, as he addressed reporters in Iowa on Saturday.

“I spoke my mind honestly during the previous debate,” he declared. “In my opinion, our country requires a greater dose of candidness, not a reduction.”

Christie remains committed to his campaign in New Hampshire, vowing to stay in the race.

“I have no intention of dropping out,” he declared confidently during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire recently.

This is the fourth occasion that this group of candidates has shared the debate stage. Once again, several GOP candidates were unable to meet the qualifying thresholds, including former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has not participated in a debate since the initial one in August. Additionally, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina concluded his campaign after the third debate last month.

Just hours before the RNC’s announcement on Monday, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum made the decision to suspend his presidential bid. It seemed likely that he would miss yet another debate, and in his exit, he criticized the RNC’s debate thresholds.

North Dakota Governor, Doug Burgum, expressed his concerns about the debate criteria used by the party, stating that they do not focus on the qualifications necessary for the role of the president. In a statement, Burgum emphasized that the effort to nationalize the primary system is detrimental to the party’s future, particularly for a party that claims to value leadership from outside of Washington.

This report was contributed to by Katherine Koretski and Emma Barnett.

Bridget Bowman serves as a deputy editor for NBC’s Political Unit.

Gary Grumbach made a contribution to this article.

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