CNN announced Thursday it will host a pair of Republican presidential debates in January, which are not sanctioned by the Republican National Committee (RNC), ahead of the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
The announcement comes as former President Donald Trump, the leading candidate, holds a commanding lead in the polls and has declared he will not participate in GOP primary debates.
The CNN debates challenge the RNC’s “Beat Biden Pledge” the candidates signed earlier this year, where they committed to not participating in non-RNC sanctioned debates and to supporting the eventual nominee.
See you in Milwaukee! pic.twitter.com/zFeGjrtLph
— Team DeSantis (@TeamDeSantis) August 9, 2023
Those who signed the pledge — which includes all remaining candidates, spare Trump — would be ineligible to partake in future RNC-sanctioned debates, according to a copy of the document Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) campaign posted to Twitter in August. Notably, he indicated Thursday he would be at CNN’s debate.
Looking forward to debating in Iowa! https://t.co/qeCvrTLwqy
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) December 7, 2023
CNN reported the RNC “is expected to announce this week it will release candidates from its requirement that prevents them from participating in non-RNC-sanctioned debates.”
When contacted for comment, an RNC spokesperson directed Breitbart News to RNC Communications Director Keith Schipper’s post on X, emphasizing the debates are unsactioned.
These are not RNC sanctioned debates. https://t.co/ItXoqzpgsb
— Keith Schipper (@SchipperKeith) December 7, 2023
The spokesperson also stated that the committee was still weighing nixing the pledge, as Breitbart News’s Wendell Husebø noted it planned to consider in a meeting sometime this week.
The first CNN debate will take place at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 10 — five days before the Iowa Caucuses on January 15.
Candidates must score ten percent of support, without rounding, “in three separate national and/or Iowa polls of Republican caucusgoers or primary voters that meet CNN’s standards for reporting” to make the stage. It is a requirement that one of the polls be of Iowa caucusgoers and that it be approved by the network.
WATCH — Vivek Slams RNC for Picking NBC for Debate, Calls for McDaniel’s Resignation: “Party of Losers”:NBC News
For a poll to be eligible, it must have been conducted on or after October 15, while polls published after 12:05 p.m. on January 2 will be outside of the eligibility window.
The next debate will be at Saint Anselm’s College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, on January 21, two days before the primary. Again, candidates need to garner ten percent of backing “in three separate national and/or New Hampshire polls of Republican primary voters that meet CNN’s standards for reporting,” with one of them having to be a New Hampshire primary survey.
Moreover, anyone who finishes in the top three in the Iowa Caucuses will qualify for the stage in Goffstown. Polls will not be rounded, and to qualify, they must have been conducted November 1 or later, with the closing deadline set as 12:05 p.m. Eastern, on January 16.