Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are the only Republicans to qualify for Wednesday's 2024 presidential primary debate at the University of Alabama. Former President Donald Trump, who is the GOP front-runner, has said he will not attend. Photo by Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA-EFE/
Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Wednesday's fourth 2024 Republican presidential primary debate in Alabama will shrink to four candidates, the Republican National Committee announced Monday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all qualified before Monday night's deadline.
Former President Donald Trump, who is the current front-runner for the GOP nomination, will once again skip the debate. Instead, he will attend a fundraiser in Florida for a super PAC supporting his candidacy. Trump announced in August that he would not participate in any RNC debates, calling for all of them to be canceled.
The candidates who qualified for Wednesday's debate hold at least 6% in national and early-state polls and have attracted more than 80,000 unique donors, with at least 200 in 20 states or territories.
Earlier Monday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum dropped out of the presidential race after he failed to make the debate cut. Burgum blasted the Republican National Committee for creating "arbitrary criteria" for debate qualification.
"The RNC's clubhouse debate requirements are nationalizing the primary process and taking the power of democracy away from the engaged, thoughtful citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire," Burgum said. "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 or the first in the nation New Hampshire primary."
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former Vice President Mike Pence, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former Rep. Will Hurd and businessman Perry Johnson have also suspended their presidential campaigns.
As RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced Wednesday's four participants, she called the debate "another fantastic opportunity for our Republican candidates to share our winning agenda with the American people."
"President [Ronald] 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."
Wednesday's debate is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST at the University of Alabama. It will be hosted by NewsNation with debate moderators Elizabeth Vargas and Megyn Kelly.