Vivek Ramaswamy Says He Qualified For First Republican Debate In August

Vivek Ramaswamy’s presidential campaign announced that it had passed a major milestone Saturday: the biotech investor and political novice has qualified for the first GOP primary debate, Semafor reported.

According to the rules set out by the Republican National Committee, candidates must boast over 40,000 unique donors with at least 200 donors in 20 unique states, in addition to polling over 1% in three qualifying national polls (or two national and one early nominating state poll) to make the stage.

“The RNC’s debate stage criteria are stringent but fair,” Ramaswamy said in a statement and went on to swipe at some of his opponents who are struggling to meet the bar.

“I am a first-time candidate who started with very low name ID, no political donors, and no pre-existing fundraising lists,” said the GOP candidate currently polling in the top five.

“If an outsider can clear the bar, politically experienced candidates should be able to as well: if you can’t hit these metrics by late August, you have absolutely no chance of defeating Joe Biden in the general election,” he added.

Ramaswamy’s campaign confirmed that it had surpassed the giving threshold in May and currently counts 65,000 unique donors. Recently, the campaign announced a donor gambit called “Vivek’s Kitchen Cabinet,” which allows supporters to keep 10% of any money they help raise for his campaign.

As for the polling threshold, the campaign cited two Morning Consult polls conducted earlier this month, where Ramaswamy came in third among Republican candidates with around 8% support. It also cited a more recent Kaplan Strategies poll that had him at 12%—tied for second.

Ramaswamy also told Semafor he plans on signing a pledge to support the eventual nominee, a new requirement the RNC put in place after the mayhem of the 2016 primary. So far, a number of candidates, including former president Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have refused to say whether they would sign the pledge.

Earlier last week, Semafor reported that, despite his surprising polling numbers, Ramaswamy’s competitors don’t think his campaign is built to last. “Vivek is like the fajitas that go by you at the restaurant,” an advisor to a Republican rival told Semafor. “They make noise, look exciting, and come on the fun plate. But if you order it, it’s too much, too annoying to assemble, and you wish you just ordered tacos.”

Whether Ramaswamy will have a chance to make a splash on the debate stage in Milwaukee will largely hinge on whether Trump decides to show up at all. So far, the former president has indicated that he’s likely to skip the event altogether, a posture that has elicited criticism from some fellow Republicans. 

On Saturday, The Washington Post reported that a number of Fox News hosts, including Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, have begun making the case on air that Trump should commit to taking part in the debate. And on Wednesday, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News that it would be a “mistake” for Trump to miss the debates.

The candidates have until August 21—two days before the event—to fulfill the RNC’s requirements.

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