Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel Wednesday defended the wide set of rules the committee has established for participation in the GOP primary debates, telling Newsmax that there must be standards in place for the candidates.
"I think it's very acceptable to have thresholds to make the debate stage," McDaniel told Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "I think we should have a standard if you're going to be running for president of the United States, and not everybody deserves to be on that debate stage."
Among the rules for participation, candidates must have at least a 1% ranking in three separate national polls, they must agree to endorse the eventual GOP nominees, and they must have 40,000 unique donors to their campaigns by the time of the debate.
"One percent in three national polls, I don't think that's very hard to get if you're a legitimate candidate, and 40,000 small-dollar donations, I think this is critical," McDaniel said. "If we are going to be a competitive party and we're going to beat Joe Biden, we need to build that small-dollar fundraising arm in our party. The Democrats have been doing this for decades."
And then finally, the pledge to endorse a candidate is vital, she said.
"Why would we have anybody on the Republican National Committee debate stage take time away from the eventual nominee or be on that stage and have a platform in front of Republican primary voters and then have them turn around and say, 'I'm not going to support the nominee and I'm not going to focus on beating Joe Biden?' " said McDaniel. "They should say that up front."
Meanwhile, McDaniel said she's spoken with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is running as an "anti-Trump" candidate.
"He doesn't love the pledge, but the pledge is there," she said. "Everybody's known about it. This isn't about one candidate. This is about beating Joe Biden."
Former President Donald Trump has also been speaking out against the debates, including not participating in the first event in August, saying he has concerns about media figures.
McDaniel said that would be his choice.
"I know there are people in his campaign saying you're up to 30%, so why would you get on a debate stage?" said McDaniel. "I feel like all of them should get on the debate stage. I think, why wouldn't you take the oxygen in the room to contrast against Joe Biden?"
She also ruled out so-called "varsity and junior varsity debates" like those the RNC sponsored in 2016.
"I really hope we don't have the kiddie table and the big table," she said. "I want to have it on one debate stage."
McDaniel also acknowledged that there may be a candidate or candidates who sign the endorsement pledge but won't follow through, but she warned that someone who would do that would be "exposing themselves as somebody who's untrustworthy."
"There is an appetite to win the White House," she said. "People are hurting. They're paying more for everything in their lives. Their kids are still suffering from deficits in school. They're dealing with the fentanyl crisis, a border crisis, an energy crisis, crime crisis. They're scared, and they do not want to see any candidate get on that stage who does not have the number one overriding goal of beating Joe Biden."
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Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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