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RNC raises bar for candidates to qualify for fourth GOP presidential debate

Republican presidential primary contenders will have to meet higher polling and donor thresholds to qualify for the fourth debate in the race, the RNC said on Friday.

To qualify for the fourth debate, scheduled to take place on Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., candidates will need to poll at least 6 percent support in either two national polls or in one national poll and two separate early state polls — a slight increase from the 4 percent marker previously needed to qualify.

The presidential hopefuls will also need to pick up 80,000 unique donors, a tick upward from the 70,000 needed to qualify for the third contest.

At least four candidates will take the third debate stage next Wednesday in Miami: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

But the race’s far-and-away frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, will skip the event — and he will almost certainly not attend the fourth debate as well. Trump’s campaign has repeatedly called for an end to the events given his sustained polling lead.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said he has qualified for the third debate, but the RNC has yet to confirm to POLITICO whether he has fully met the polling criteria.

Trump and his campaign have reasoned that the debates are dragging out a primary race that he argues is already over, and the continued intraparty battle is distracting Republicans from training their focus toward defeating President Joe Biden. The former president has led the rest of the field combined by at least 20-30 points for months, and the debates have yet to produce a major shakeup in the race.

The GOP field has already begun shrinking, most notably with former Vice President Mike Pence dropping out last Saturday after his campaign struggled to gain traction. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum also appears to be on the fringes of the race as well, given that he does not seem to have the polling needed to make the third debate stage.

Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.

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