Republicans announce Aug. 23 as the date for presidential debate in Milwaukee

If enough candidates qualify, there will be a second debate on Aug. 24, said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
Posted at 1:41 PM, Jun 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-02 18:03:46-04

MILWAUKEE — The first Republican presidential primary debate will take place in Milwaukee on Aug. 23, according to Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

If enough candidates qualify, there will be a second debate on Aug. 24, according to a news release from the RNC on Friday.

The criteria to qualify for the debate are grouped as: candidate status, polling, fundraising, and candidate pledging.

The Republican National Convention will also happen in Milwaukee, in 2024.

The RNC debate is being broadcast by Fox News with partners Rumble and the Young America's Foundation.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is Trump's closest competitor. The Republican field includes former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and recently announced conservative radio host Larry Elder. Former VP Mike Pence is expected to launch a presidential campaign soon.

President Joe Biden is seeking re-election and faces a long-shot challenger who is the scion of a political family. Robert F. Kennedy Jr announced he wants the Democratic nomination.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in an opinion column previously suggested Trump should be in Wisconsin for the August debate. It remains to be seen if former President Trump will attend the Milwaukee RNC debate.

Walker also said Trump needs to find a way to win over more 18-to-29-year-old voters if he is nominated. A majority of young voters backed Joe Biden in 2020.

Read the full statement from the RNC below:

RNC Announces Criteria and Date for First Debate in Milwaukee
WASHINGTON – Today, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced the first Republican presidential primary debate will take place in Milwaukee, WI on August 23. Should enough candidates qualify to make it necessary, there will be a second debate on August 24.

McDaniel also announced the criteria to qualify for the debate. The criteria are grouped below as follows: candidate status; polling; fundraising; and candidate pledging.

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. 

  • 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 message.
    • Not overly weight responses of any individual cohort beyond the margin of the error of the poll.
    • Ask the question on presidential preference prior to any question which may allow potential bias.
    • Not be a 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 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 pledge agreeing not to participate in any non-RNC sanctioned debate for the remainder of the election cycle. 
  • Have signed pledge agreeing to support the eventual party nominee. 
  • Have signed RNC data-sharing agreement. 
  • Present signed pledges and agreement to the RNC no later than 48 hours prior to the first scheduled debate. 
To participate in the August debate, candidates must meet all criteria listed in the four groups above. Qualified candidates will be placed on stage according to polling, with the highest polling candidate in the center. Criteria for future debates may include higher thresholds for polling and fundraising.

Milwaukee host city for 2024 Republican National Convention

Milwaukee is of course the host city for the Republican National Convention July 15-18, 2024, when party leaders will select a presidential candidate.

Visit Milwaukee expects the RNC to have an estimated economic impact of just under $200 million and attract nearly 50,000 visitors to Milwaukee.

This is the second time a city has been chosen to host back-to-back conventions and the first since New York City in 1976 and 1980.

Wisconsin is a crucial swing state for both Democrats and Republicans. Joe Biden won the state in 2020 after Donald Trump won it in 2016. Milwaukee, while being a Democratic stronghold, has the infrastructure to host large conventions, regardless of the political party involved.

Milwaukee was chosen to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC), but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the city to hold the convention virtually. It was also a missed opportunity for an economic boost - a benefit the DNC highlighted in their letter to Milwaukee for the 2024 convention. The Democratic National Committee wrote in a letter to the city on July 30, 2021 that this is the "very first step" if Milwaukee's administration was interested in hosting again.

While officially putting Milwaukee in the running for the DNC in September 2021, former Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett also expressed interest to the Republicans for the RNC.

In March, it came down to Milwaukee and Nashville, Tennessee.

After initial setbacks, on June 1, the Milwaukee Common Council passed 13-0 and Mayor Cavalier Johnson signed the framework agreement for the convention. The plan is used as a way to lay out what thousands of convention goers can expect in terms of services and resources when the RNC takes place in the Brew City.

Johnson and Milwaukee County Supervisor David Crowley spent time trying to convince Republican officials as they visited Brew City.

On July 15, the GOP Site Selection Committee voted to recommend Milwaukee as the host city for the 2024 convention.

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