Requirements toughen for candidates to qualify for the GOP presidential debate next month in Alabama

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel speaks at the committee's winter meeting in Dana Point, Calif., Jan. 27, 2023. A fourth Republican presidential debate has been set for Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., with heightened polling requirements that could make the stage less crowded than before. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A fourth Republican presidential debate has been set for next month, with heightened polling requirements that could make the stage less crowded than before.

The Republican National Committee said Thursday that the fourth debate would take place Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. NewsNation, The Megyn Kelly Show on SiriusXM and the Washington Free Beacon will partner as hosts, with Kelly, NewsNation's Elizabeth Vargas and Washington Free Beacon’s Eliana Johnson acting as moderators, according to the party.

“It will be the margarita of debates – spicy, fun and somewhat intoxicating," Kelly said, in a release. “Looking forward to it.”

As with previous debates, the event will also be livestreamed on Rumble, a video-sharing platform popular with some conservatives.

To make the stage, candidates must garner at least 6% in two approved national polls, or 6% in one poll from two separate early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Participants also need to amass at least 80,000 unique donors, with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory, in 20 or more states.

Candidates have until 48 hours before the debate to satisfy the requirements.

The RNC has increased the necessary markers with each debate, an effort intended to winnow the once sprawling field.

Meeting some of the qualifications has been tough for some candidates, including former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who participated in the debut debate but hasn't met subsequent qualifications. Former Vice President Mike Pence, on stage for the first two debates, suspended his campaign last month after it appeared likely that he wouldn't qualify for the third.

That debate, which took place Wednesday in Miami, required campaigns to meet 4% in polls and notch 70,000 unique donors.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were the five candidates to meet those markers.

As he did for the first two debates, former President Donald Trump — the GOP field's current front-runner — skipped the gathering, instead counterprogramming with a rally in Hialeah, Florida, about a half-hour drive from the debate site.

Trump's campaign has called for primary debates to be canceled, saying last month that the RNC must instead “refocus its manpower” on defeating Democrat Joe Biden next year.


Meg Kinnard can be reached at


This story has been corrected to reflect that participation in the fourth debate requires at least 80,000 unique donors, not 800,000.