COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Donald Trump won’t be on the Republican debate stage Wednesday. But the former president is driving the conversation on and off the debate stage anyway.
Trump supporters including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will be in Milwaukee. There are questions about how many of his campaign surrogates will be allowed into Fox News’ spin room. The network has restricted their access unless they are the guests of another media organization.
Eight other candidates met the donor and polling qualifications to be onstage, according to the Republican National Committee. For those who didn’t, missing the debate could be a decisive moment in their campaigns.
Conservative radio host Larry Elder has said he plans to sue the RNC over being left out, despite what he says is proof that he qualified for the debate. It also wasn’t immediately clear what Miami Mayor Francis Suarez — who didn’t make the cut — would do, following his Iowa State Fair comments that he might drop out of the race if that happened.
To qualify for the Aug. 23 debate, candidates needed to satisfy polling and donor requirements set by the RNC: at least 1% in three national polls or a mix of national and early-state polls deemed acceptable by the committee, between July 1 and Aug. 21, and a minimum of 40,000 donors, with 200 in 20 or more states.
Candidates also needed to commit at least 48 hours before the Wednesday evening debate, according to RNC criteria, which also required participants to sign a pledge promising to support the party’s eventual nominee.
A look at who’s in, who’s out and who’s decided not to participate: