(Bloomberg) -- The Republican debate stage will have just four lecterns in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Wednesday, as the field of qualifying candidates continues to shrink with the last scheduled primary season candidate encounter of the 2024 campaign.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will square off in what could be their last chance to confront each other in person before the Iowa caucuses kick off the primary season on Jan. 15. The Republican National Committee announced the debate lineup Monday night.
That’s the smallest debate roster Republicans have had at this point in the campaign since 2000. Then, as now, the debate took place without the front-runner: George W. Bush, then the governor of Texas, skipped the December Republican debate that year, and former President Donald Trump has boycotted all of the Republican events this year.
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Also missing will be South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who left the race last month.
To qualify for the debate, candidates needed at least 6% support in two approved national polls, or 6% in a combination of one national poll and from two separate early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. They also must have at least 80,000 unique donors.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who dropped out of the race earlier Monday, said those debate rules were turning the Republican primaries into a national beauty contest and discriminated against candidates outside major media markets. “The RNC’s mission is to win elections. It is not their mission to reduce competition and restrict fresh ideas by ‘narrowing the field’ months before the Iowa caucuses,” he said.
The debate Wednesday night will appear on the NewsNation cable channel and broadcast stations on the CW Network at 8 p.m. New York Time.
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