With the Iowa caucuses and early primary elections just around the corner, a growing number of voters are beginning to pay attention to the state of the 2024 GOP presidential race.
What began as a crowded field of contenders has been winnowed down to consistent front-runner Donald Trump and a core group of rivals dozens of points behind him in the polls.
On Wednesday night, only four candidates will take the stage in Alabama, according to Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel. Five candidates — not including Trump, who has opted against participating in any of the debates — met the requirements for the third debate last month, but U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) dropped out of the race shortly thereafter.
An all-female panel of moderators including Megyn Kelly, Eliana Johnson, and Elizabeth Vargas will be asking questions to former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
— New York Post (@nypost) December 4, 2023
“The fourth debate is another fantastic opportunity for our Republican candidates to share our winning agenda with the American people,” McDaniel said.
Referencing one of the party’s most iconic figures, she signaled the perceived significance of the setting for Wednesday’s debate.
“President Reagan was the first sitting president to visit the University of Alabama nearly 40 years ago, just before cruising to a landslide victory in 1984, and I’m thrilled to return our conservative message to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday night,” she said.
In addition to Scott, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has also suspended his campaign since the last debate — but not without taking a shot at the RNC’s prerequisites for participation. Each candidate must meet strict polling and fundraising standards in order to qualify for the debate.
“These arbitrary criteria ensure advantages for candidates from major media markets on the coasts versus America’s Heartland,” Burgum claimed. “None of their debate criteria relate to the qualifications related to actually doing the job of the president. This effort to nationalize the primary system is unhealthy for the future of the party, especially for a party that proclaims to value leadership from outside of Washington.”