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RNC Announces Criteria and Date for First Debate in Milwaukee

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Last updated on June 5th, 2023 at 08:59 pm

Washington – In an important announcement today, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel revealed that the first Republican presidential primary debate will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 23. Additionally, if enough candidates qualify, there will be a second debate held on August 24.

Chairwoman McDaniel also outlined the criteria that candidates must meet in order to qualify for the debate. These criteria are categorized into candidate status, polling, fundraising, and candidate pledging.

The debate, scheduled for August 23, will be broadcast on Fox News Channel. If the necessary qualifications are met, the party will plan for a second debate on August 24. The specific location for the debate is yet to be determined.

Candidates wishing to participate in Debate must fulfill the following criteria:

Candidate Status:

  • Be eligible to run (natural born U.S. citizen, resident for 14+ years, 35 years or older). 
  • Have declared his or her candidacy.
  • Have an active FEC Form 2 (Statement of Candidacy) filed with the FEC in which they identify as a candidate for the Republican nomination? 
  • Have an active FEC Form 1 (Statement of Organization) filed with the FEC designating the candidate’s principal campaign committee? 


  • A poll at least 1% in three national polls OR 1% in two national polls and 1% in one early state poll from two separate “carve out” states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina) recognized by the RNC. For a poll to be recognized, it must:
  • Survey at least 800 registered likely Republican voters through a mix of live calls, integrated voice response, online panels, and/or text messages.
  • Not overly weight responses of any individual cohort beyond the margin of error of the poll.
  • Ask the question on presidential preference prior to any question which may allow potential bias.
  • Not be conducted by a polling company affiliated with a candidate or candidate committee.
  • Meet this polling requirement no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate and must be conducted on or after July 1, 2023.


  • Have a minimum of 40,000 unique donors to the candidate’s principal presidential campaign committee (or exploratory committee), with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in 20+ states and/or territories. 
  • Present this evidence to the RNC no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate. 

Candidate Pledge:

  • Have signed a pledge agreeing not to participate in any non-RNC sanctioned debate for the remainder of the election cycle. 
  • Have signed a pledge agreeing to support the eventual party nominee. 
  • Have signed RNC data-sharing agreement. 
  • Present signed pledges and agreements to the RNC no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate. 

The selection of Milwaukee as the debate location holds particular significance, as it will also host the Republican National Convention in 2024. The city’s role in determining the outcome of previous elections, with Donald Trump winning in 2016 and Joe Biden flipping it in 2020, underscores its importance in the electoral process.

While several notable Republican figures are already in the race or expected to announce their campaigns, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former VP Mike Pence, and others, there remains uncertainty surrounding former President Donald Trump’s participation in the debate and his commitment to supporting the eventual nominee.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel expressed the committee’s commitment to a fair, neutral, and transparent primary process. She believes that the qualifying criteria established will position the Republican Party and its eventual nominee to secure victory in the November 2024 elections.

It’s worth mentioning that Milwaukee previously hosted a Republican presidential primary debate in 2015, which was broadcast on the Fox Business Network.

The announcement made by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sets the stage for an exciting and closely watched debate in Milwaukee, where Republican candidates will have the opportunity to articulate their visions and compete for the party’s nomination.

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