Christie: GOP candidates who don’t qualify for first debate should drop out

GOP presidential candidate and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday said those in the 2024 primary who don’t qualify for the party’s first debate later this month should drop out of the running. 

“If you don’t make the debate stage, you should leave the field. I think it’s that simple,” Christie said in a Fox News Digital interview, calling it “the first winnowing process.”

“If you haven’t made the stage, I think it’s time to go,” he added said. 

The former governor called the Republican National Committee (RNC) requirements for the event “fair ones.” 

In order to get on the Aug. 23 stage in Milwaukee, candidates have to meet specific polling benchmarks, hit 40,000 unique donors and sign a loyalty pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee.

Christie has said he’s met the RNC’s donor requirements, and it appears he’s also met the polling bar. He said on ABC that he’ll do whatever he has to do to get on the debate stage, but he’s also called the pledge to support whoever wins the party’s nomination in 2024 a “useless idea.”

The major unknown ahead of the debate is whether former President Trump, who is by far the current front-runner for the nod, will attend. Trump has indicated he has little to gain as he is polling so far ahead, and he has balked at the pledge requirement.

“I wouldn’t sign the pledge. Why would I sign a pledge if there are people on there that I wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t have certain people as somebody that I would endorse,” he told Eric Bolling on Newsmax on Wednesday, adding he will reveal his plans for the debate next week.

In addition to Christie and Trump, GOP candidates who have met both the polling and donor requirements include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

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