Debate lineup appears set for primary round two

September 25, 2023

The lineup for the second Republican primary debate appears to have been set, with one notable candidate failing to make the cut. 

So far, all of the candidates who appeared on stage at last month's debate have qualified for round two with the exception of Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, who is running in a narrow anti-Trump lane crowded out by former New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

The new requirements include 3 percent support in polling, according to the RNC's criteria, and 50,000 unique individual donors.

Debate line-up set?

The candidates must meet the qualifying thresholds before 9 p.m. ET Monday.

"We made the last debate. It surprised everybody. People had counted us out. So, don’t count us out in this next debate," Hutchinson said in a recent Fox News Digital interview.

It appears that North Dakota Doug Burgum will return, despite his low name ID.

Unless something changes, the candidates on stage at the Reagan Presidential Library Wednesday night will be Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Nikki Halley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, and Tim Scott. The debate is being hosted by Fox Business and Univision.

Trump is planning to skip the debate in order to rally in Michigan, turning his focus to the general election campaign by leveraging a rift between Joe Biden and union voters who are on strike.

Trump runs up the score

Trump also skipped last month's debate and was criticized by some for doing so, but his decision didn't hurt his polling.

A re-match between Trump and Biden is looking increasingly likely, even inevitable, as Trump continues to dominate the primary field.

Trump has argued he has nothing to gain from sharing the stage with candidates running far behind and giving them an opportunity to elevate themselves.

Trump defender Vivek Ramaswamy was widely hailed as the standout performer last month, although Trump's former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley also received praise.

Candidates largely sidestepped Florida governor Ron DeSantis, once seen as the only viable alternative to Trump. The governor's star has faded: a sobering new poll found DeSantis lagging in fifth place in New Hampshire.

Several candidates who didn't make round one still do not qualify under the heightened thresholds for round two, including conservative personality Larry Elder and businessman Perry Johnson.


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