With the first Republican primary debate barely in the rearview mirror, some political junkies are already anticipating the next time the presidential hopefuls will face off.
It won’t be a long wait: The 2024 candidates are scheduled to take the stage again Sept. 27 — this time at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California.
The eight contenders who debated Wednesday, however, will have to clear a higher bar to participate next time.
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Candidates had to have at least 40,000 donors and reach at least 1 percent in qualifying polls to make the first debate stage, under Republican National Committee rules. To appear in Simi Valley, Calif., the RNC requires them to get 50,000 donors and hit at least 3 percent in two national polls, or 3 percent in one national poll and two polls from separate early-nominating states.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former vice president Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie are all at or above 3 percent in a Washington Post average of August polling.
Two others who made the stage Wednesday night — Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — risk missing the mark.
Former president Donald Trump, the primary’s front-runner, also may not participate in the second debate, which will air on Fox Business, Univision and Rumble. Trump, who is polling more than 35 percentage points ahead of the next candidate, skipped the first faceoff and has said he plans to skip others.
“I’m leading by 50 and 60 points, and some of them are at 1 and zero and 2 [percent], and I’m saying, do I sit there for an hour or two hours, whatever it’s going to be, and get harassed by people that shouldn’t even be running for president?” Trump told former Fox News host Tucker Carlson in an interview released as the debate began.
The Republican contenders targeted each other Wednesday as much as they went after Trump in absentia. Several of the most heated exchanges centered on Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old political novice who sparred with some of the more experienced candidates. Ramaswamy attacked his rivals as “super PAC puppets,” while Pence called him a “rookie” and Christie labeled him an “amateur.”
One of the most striking moments of the night came when the debate moderators, Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, asked the candidates to raise their hands if they would support Trump if he won the nomination and was convicted of a crime.
All but two of the eight contenders — Hutchinson and Christie — clearly raised their hands.
Michael Scherer contributed to this report.