Who’s still fighting to make the stage at the first Republican presidential debate?

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is optimistic he’ll be on the stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when Fox News hosts the first Republican presidential nomination debate of the 2024 cycle. “I expect to be on the debate stage,” Hutchinson told Fox News Digital Wednesday, just two weeks ahead of the first GOP showdown. WHO’S IN AND WHO’S ON THE SIDELINES — YOUR GUIDE TO THE 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACE Eight candidates say they’ve reached the polling and donor thresholds mandated by the Republican National Committee in order to qualify for the initial showdown on Aug. 23. They are former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and entrepreneur and best-selling author Vivek Ramaswamy. Ramaswamy has also signed a RNC mandated pledge to support the eventual 2024 GOP presidential nominee. FIRST ON FOX: FORMER VP MIKE PENCE QUALIFIES FOR FIRST GOP DEBATE Hutchinson is one of roughly a half dozen Republican White House hopefuls who are still aiming to make the stage. That list also includes former CIA spy and former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, Florida, Michigan businessman and quality control leader Perry Johnson, and Larry Elder, a former talk radio host who was a candidate for governor in the 2021 California recall election. “People want me on there as someone who’s going to speak the truth and also to be a counter to Donald Trump and talk about how he would be taking our country in the wrong direction. I want to be on there. We’re not there yet. We need everybody’s help,” Hutchinson, a vocal Republican critic of the former president, told Fox News. THESE GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HAVE QUALIFIED TO MAKE THE DEBATE STAGE AT THE FOX NEWS SHOWDOWN And Hutchinson, who’s already met the polling criteria but remains short of the individual contributor threshold, emphasized that “over the last two weeks we’ve had over a 10,000 increase in donors. Each day we’re getting over a thousand new donors, so very optimistic we’re going to get there.” Hutchinson noted that for many of the lesser known candidates, the initial debates are “really important because you talk to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and they’re all waiting for the debate because it’s the first opportunity to contrast the candidates. And there is an expectation that I would be there, with my experience, my vision for America and how clear I have been that we need to go in a different direction than Donald Trump.” Suarez says he’s reached the donor threshold but has yet to hit the polling criteria. “We’re going to obviously spend money over the next couple of weeks to get it there. But, you know, for me, this is very different than for other candidates. I mean, like I said, a lot of them are well-established national figures,” Suarez said Tuesday in an interview on Fox News’ “Your World.” “For me, this is an incremental process getting on the debate stage, introducing myself.” Hurd told Fox News Digital last week that he’s “confident that I’m going to hit the thresholds.” But Hurd, another vocal GOP critic of the former president, reiterated, “I’m not taking the pledge. Donald Trump hasn’t even agreed to take the pledge and whether he’s going to participate. So a lot can happen in these next few weeks. My focus is on meeting those requirements and being in places like New Hampshire to talk to voters.” The RNC says the candidates need to reach the thresholds and sign the pledge within 48 hours of the debate in order to make the stage.
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