RNC announces criteria to qualify for first 2024 presidential primary debate

The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Friday detailed the criteria candidates will need to satisfy in order to qualify for the first presidential primary debate in August, including polling requirements and a pledge to support the eventual nominee.

The first primary debate will take place in Milwaukee, Wis., on Aug. 23, the party said, and a second debate will be held on Aug. 24 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, if enough candidates qualify to make it necessary. The first debate is scheduled to be broadcast by Fox News, while the broadcaster for the second hasn’t been announced.

“The RNC is committed to putting on a fair, neutral, and transparent primary process and the qualifying criteria set forth will put our party and eventual nominee in the best position to take back the White House come November 2024,” Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.

To qualify for the first debate, candidates will have to be polling at a minimum of 1 percent in at least three separate national polls, or at 1 percent in two national polls and one early state poll from two of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

The RNC will only recognize polls if they survey at least 800 registered likely Republican voters on or after July 1. The poll cannot be conducted by a polling firm affiliated with a candidate.

Candidates must also satisfy a fundraising requirement, having a minimum of 40,000 unique donors and at least 200 unique donors from 20 or more states and territories.

Perhaps the thorniest issue for the RNC and some candidates is that the party will require those participating in the debate to sign a loyalty pledge agreeing to support the eventual party nominee. Some critics have questioned the enforceability of the pledge to support the eventual nominee.

The party will also require candidates to commit to a data sharing agreement and pledge not to participate in any non-RNC sanctioned debate.

Former President Donald Trump, who is leading the majority of national polls of the primary field, has already threatened to skip the first two debates, and in 2016 refused to commit to backing the eventual party nominee if it was not him.

Trump has taken issue with Fox News hosting the first debate, and has complained that Fred Ryan, publisher of The Washington Post, is chairman of the board of trustees at the Reagan library.

The GOP primary field is steadily taking shape roughly three months before the first debate. Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) are among the candidates already in the race.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) are expected to announce their candidacy next week, and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has said he will decide on a 2024 bid in the coming weeks.

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Trump doesn’t like the term ‘woke’: ‘Half the people can’t even define it’

Former President Trump said Thursday that he doesn’t like the term “woke,” claiming that most people “can’t even define it.”

“I don’t like the term ‘woke’ because I hear ‘woke woke woke.’ It’s just a term they use, half the people can’t even define it, they don’t know what it is,” Trump said at the Westside Conservative Breakfast in Urbandale, Iowa.

The idea of “wokeness” has been a central theme for Trump’s biggest competition in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“We reject this woke ideology,” DeSantis said in his inaugural address in January. “We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy. We will not allow reality, facts, and truth to become optional. We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”

The Florida governor signed legislation known as the “Stop WOKE Act” last year, restricting how race can be discussed in schools and workplaces in the Sunshine State. 

More recently, DeSantis approved bills barring universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and expanding limitations on discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in Florida classrooms, as part of his war on “woke.”

DeSantis derided “wokeness” once again on Tuesday, as he kicked off his campaign with a rally outside of Des Moines.

Trump used the term just last weekend, claiming that “Disney has become a Woke and Disgusting shadow of its former self” under DeSantis in a Truth Social post  on Sunday.

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Haley on Biden fall: US ‘could end up with President Harris’

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley suggested on Thursday that the U.S. could “end up with President Harris” if President Biden is reelected, after he fell on stage at the Air Force Academy commencement.

“No one should feel good about watching the President fall,” Haley told Fox News Digital. “While this is hard to see, we have to be honest with the American people. Our enemies see the same TV clips and wonder who is in charge.”

“Joe Biden is the oldest president in history, and if he’s reelected, we could end up with a President Harris,” she added. “This is why I have repeatedly called for mental competency tests and term limits for politicians. It’s time for a new generation of leadership in Washington.”

The 80-year-old president took a spill  on stage after congratulating the last of the Air Force graduates at Thursday’s ceremony. He was uninjured in the incident, which he blamed on a sandbag on stage.

“I got sandbagged,” Biden joked  to reporters, after landing back in Washington later in the day.

Haley has previously taken aim at the president’s age, suggesting that he is unlikely to make it to the end of a second term.

“I think we can all be very clear and say with a matter of fact that if you vote for Joe Biden, you really are counting on a President Harris because the idea that he would make until 86 years old is not something that I think is likely,” Haley said  in April.

The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has also called  for mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old, since she first launched her bid for the Republican nomination in February.

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Cheney not ruling out 2024 bid: Focused on making sure Trump ‘isn’t anywhere close to the Oval Office’

Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wi.), a longtime critic of former President Trump, said that she has not ruled out a 2024 bid for president.  

“I’m not making any announcements today,” she said while speaking at an event at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan, adding “I am really focused on making sure that Donald Trump isn’t anywhere close to the Oval Office.”

Cheney was on the House select committee that probed the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol and has voiced her criticism for the former president’s involvement in the attacks. She also said that she will campaign against those who have denied the results of the 2020 election, including Trump who has maintained that the election was “stolen” from him.  

Cheney launched a new ad targeting Trump earlier this month in New Hampshire, saying in a voiceover that he is the “only president in American history who has refused to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power.”  

“Donald Trump has proven he is unfit for office. Donald Trump is a risk America can never take again,” Cheney narrated over clips of Trump and the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 

Trump is now facing probes into his involvement in the Jan. 6 attacks as well as his alleged attempts to interfere with the Georgia elections in 2020. 

Cheney said last September that she would not be a Republican on the ballot if she ran for the White House in the future, fueling speculation that she could mount an independent bid for the president.

When asked by moderator Devin Scillian on Thursday if she would consider a third-party run for election, she said that she has not ruled it out.  

“I think that we have to have good people, and I don’t know yet what that is going to look like,” she responded, adding that she has not ruled out a future run.  

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Trump on reported audio discussing classified document: ‘Everything I did was right’

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday dismissed reports that the Justice Department has an audio record of him talking about retaining a classified document after leaving the White House.

“I don’t know anything about it. All I know is this. Everything I did was right,” Trump said at a town hall event with Fox News host Sean Hannity in Iowa. 

Trump added that he abided by the Presidential Records Act “100 percent.” The act details that presidents and vice presidents must retain official documents and turn them over to the National Archives for preservation.

CNN first reported Wednesday that federal prosecutors have an audio recording of Trump speaking in the summer of 2021 about a classified Pentagon document he held onto even after leaving the White House. The document reportedly relates to a potential attack on Iran.

The report could prove significant as Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith investigates whether Trump mishandled classified material after he left the White House in early 2021. Federal agents last August executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida after the former president refused to turn over classified material he had in his possession, as required under the Presidential Records Act.

Trump on Thursday complained that the investigation was intended to hurt his chances of winning reelection in 2024.

“When you look at it, it’s another, it’s a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time. It’s a hoax,” Trump said. “And it has to do more than anything else with trying to interfere with the election.”

He also levied claims about President Biden’s retention of classified materials after a few dozen documents from his time as vice president were found at his Delaware home and an old Washington, D.C., office.

But the two cases have stark differences . Biden’s team notified federal officials quickly of the documents when they were discovered and sought to turn them over, while Trump did not cooperate with efforts by the National Archives to retrieve the documents he took with him upon leaving office to Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.

Trump has repeatedly offered varying defenses, including that he had the ability to declassify documents unilaterally and that he had the right to take those documents with him.

But legal officials have suggested the recording in which Trump reportedly talks about knowingly having a secretive document in his possession could be problematic.

“It further enhances the obstruction case because it eviscerates the two defenses that Trump has put forward,” former White House counsel Ty Cobb told CNN on Wednesday.

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