'UPFRONT' recap: RNC gives Monday night deadline for Trump, candidates to qualify for debate

'UPFRONT' recap: RNC gives Monday night deadline for Trump, candidates to qualify for debate

By: Matt Smith - WISN

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel says she's given former President Donald Trump a Monday night deadline for a final answer on whether he'll attend Wednesday night's GOP debate in Milwaukee.

"He has not shared his final decision," McDaniel said on WISN's 'UPFRONT' which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. "I think he's going to keep us all waiting until Monday night."

Several outlets, including the New York Times and ABC News, reported Friday afternoon Trump is planning to skip the debate and instead sit for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

"I've read the New York Times story, but I've not been given that indication from the campaign," McDaniel said during the interview late Friday afternoon. "Of course I hope he does the debate."

All candidates have until Monday night to meet the RNC requirements to make the debate stage, including 40,000 unique donors, polling benchmarks and signing a pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee.

So far eight candidates have met the criteria including Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, former Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Doug Burgum. Over the weekend, Perry Johnson and Francis Suarez's campaigns claimed they have qualified as well.

"There are a couple of candidates that are really on the bubble right now, who need either one more poll, and a couple that has to submit their 40,000 small dollar unique donors to us," McDaniel said. "We're treating every candidate the same. We are neutral. We are fair, and everyone is abiding by the same rules to make the debate stage."

Rep. Gwen Moore says she's pushing for $25 million more in federal funds to cover security costs ahead of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee next summer, including a personal plea for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which would bring the total to $75 million.

"He assured me the appropriations process was not over, so I see that as hopeful because I did admonish him with the fact that not only my letter, but the entire delegation including the chairman of the House Administration Committee Bryan Steil approved it, Sen. Johnson, the entire delegation signed onto this request," Moore said.

Moore, a Democrat who represents Milwaukee, says she'll be watching the GOP primary debate Wednesday night and committed to seeking reelection herself in 2024.

"I am running for reelection," she said. "No questions asked."

Former Gov. Scott Walker, who appeared on the debate stage in 2016 as a presidential candidate, says it's a make-or-break moment for some of the GOP presidential hopefuls Wednesday night.

"The most to lose, without a doubt, is Gov. DeSantis because he's got high expectations," Walker said. "He hasn't delivered on that. In some ways, I think that's unfair, but these debates are going to be his place to shine, and if he doesn't, people are going to move on."

The organization Walker heads, Young America's Foundation, is a debate partner for Wednesday night's event at Fiserv Forum and will feature some pre-recorded questions from young Republicans. Walker says they cover issues ranging from the economy to border security and campus free speech.

"A lot of people presume it's only this issue or that issue," Walker said. "We just did a survey, a poll nationwide of high school and college students, the number one issue particularly among college was the economy."

Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison will be watching the GOP primary debate in Milwaukee Wednesday evening, but not from inside Fiserv Forum.

"I don't think Ronna wants me inside the forum for the debate," Harrison said. "I think it's going to be a hot mess. It doesn't matter who will actually 'win' the debate on Wednesday night, the Republican presidential candidates have all chosen a losing strategy because they have all run to the extreme in their party."

Earlier in the day Wednesday, Harrison will join several other Democrats, including state party chairman Ben Wikler, Biden-Harris campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway for a news conference.

Harrison said under no scenario would the DNC host primary debates, as RFK Jr. and Marianne Williamson campaign for the Democratic nomination and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota) has said another Democrat should challenge President Biden in the primary.

"Well it's not going to happen at this point," Harrison said. "The DNC has said very early on, back in February we passed a resolution unanimously within the DNC that we are all riding with Biden and Kamala Harris."

Democrats will host their 2024 convention in Chicago.

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