Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says he has qualified for the first Republican presidential debate, but according to a person familiar with the Republican National Committee’s requirements, the campaign hasn’t yet met the thresholds for him to take the stage.
(Bloomberg) — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says he has qualified for the first Republican presidential debate, but according to a person familiar with the Republican National Committee’s requirements, the campaign hasn’t yet met the thresholds for him to take the stage.
Suarez said Friday his campaign had reached the polling thresholds, which required candidates to get 1% support in a series of surveys. According to an RNC adviser, who requested anonymity to discuss the debate qualification process, he hasn’t reached the polling criteria.
The Miami mayor’s campaign earlier this month said it had hit the requirement that candidates have at least 40,000 individual donors, but had struggled with the polling threshold. He still has time to meet that criteria but the deadline is Monday night, 48 hours before the Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee.
Making the debate could be critical for his campaign, as Suarez struggles to gain traction and break away from the GOP pack. The RealClearPolitics average of GOP polls puts him at 0.3%, tied with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who will be at the debate, for ninth place, well behind frontrunner Donald Trump.
Suarez has said candidates who don’t qualify for the debate stage should drop out of the race, even if that included him. But he has also criticized the RNC’s polling criteria as unfair for lesser-known candidates like himself.
The Suarez campaign didn’t respond to questions about the veracity of their debate claims.
He’s had an easier time collecting cash, raising nearly $1 million in the first two weeks of his campaign. Two political action committees backing his candidacy have raised $12 million.
His biggest patron has been Ken Griffin, the Citadel Securities founder who moved his firm from Chicago to Miami. Griffin, who has said in the last several months that he hasn’t decided on who to back for president, donated to Suarez’s political action committee with the stipulation that the funds be used for state and local purposes, according to a person familiar with the move.
The donation was made before Suarez announced that he was running for president.
The mayor, who once dubbed his city the “crypto capital of the world,” has aggressively courted financial and technology jobs to Miami.
Read more: Miami’s Suarez Raises $1 Million in White House Bid
With the debate less than a week away there is still uncertainly about who will be taking part.
The candidates who have met the RNC criteria are former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, US Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Burgum.
Trump has met the donor and polling criteria but has refused to sign a pledge, required by the RNC, that he would back the party’s eventual nominee and not run as a third-party candidate.
Earlier: Trump Weighs Skipping GOP Debate for Sitdown With Tucker Carlson
The former president is considering skipping the first debate to instead sit for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, according to people familiar with the GOP frontrunner’s plans. For months he has argued that appearing on stage with his lower-polling rivals would only give them a chance to attack him.
Trump’s campaign spokesperson said no plans have been finalized and he may still attend the debates — as executives of Fox News, which is televising the Milwaukee forum, and the Republican National Committee have encouraged him to do.
–With assistance from Gregory Korte.
(Updates with timing of Griffin donation, in ninth paragraph.)
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