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Qualification markers grow even tougher for next month’s 4th GOP presidential debate, in Alabama

To make the stage, candidates must garner at least 6% in two approved national polls and amass at least 800,000 unique donors

GOP FOX Business Presidential Debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California
(L-R) Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, US entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina senator Tim Scott and former Vice President Mike Pence arrive on stage prior to the GOP Debate at the Ronald Reagan in Simi Valley, California, September 27, 2023.ETIENNE LAURENT (EFE)

A fourth Republican presidential debate has been set for next month, with heightened polling requirements that could make the stage less crowded than before. In a memo sent to campaigns on Friday and obtained by The Associated Press, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said the fourth debate would take place Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

To make the stage, candidates must garner at least 6% in two approved national polls, or 6% in one poll from two separate early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

According to the memo, first reported by The New York Times, participants also need to amass at least 800,000 unique donors, with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory, in 20 or more states. Candidates have until 48 hours before the debate to satisfy the requirements.

The RNC has increased the necessary markers with each debate, an effort intended to winnow the once sprawling field. Meeting some of the qualifications has been tough for some candidates, including former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who participated in the debut debate but hasn’t met subsequent qualifications. Former Vice President Mike Pence, on stage for the first two debates, suspended his campaign last week after it appeared likely that he wouldn’t qualify for the third.

The third GOP debate, taking place Wednesday in Miami, requires campaigns to meet 4% in polls and notch 70,000 unique donors.

Although the party won’t confirm until Monday who will be on stage for the third event, it’s anticipated that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will participate.

As he did for the first two debates, former President Donald Trump — the GOP field’s current front-runner — is skipping next week’s gathering, instead counterprogramming with a rally in Hialeah, Florida, about a half-hour drive from the debate site. Trump’s campaign has called for primary debates to be canceled, saying last month that the RNC must instead “refocus its manpower” on defeating Democrat Joe Biden next year.

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