The Republican National Committee will hold its first presidential primary debate in August in Milwaukee, its debate committee decided in a vote Thursday.
The committee wants all candidates to sign a pledge of support for the final candidate in order to participate in the debates.
Milwaukee will also be the site of the 2024 Republican National Convention. Another location under consideration for the first debate was the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
“At this time, no further debates are permitted, nor has the final criteria for the first debate been decided,” RNC Chairwoman Rona McDaniel said in an email to members Thursday. “The team will continue its work and issue updates as they become available.”
The two main candidates — former President Donald J. Trump and former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley – have entered the race for the Republican nomination. (Lesser-known candidates include Vivek Ramasamy, a businessman and author, and Steve Laffey, former mayor of Cranston, RI)
But many more are expected to announce campaigns in the coming months. The field includes Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Among other matters discussed by the debate committee, candidates must sign a pledge of support for the final candidate.
Such a promise came during the 2016 campaign, when then-candidate Donald J. Trump, after considering a third-party candidacy in 2000, refused to endorse a candidate during an early debate with other contenders. Mr. Trump, already leading the polls in a crowded field, said he was concerned about being treated “fairly” by the party.
It’s unclear whether he will sign such a pledge this time — or stick to it even if he loses the nomination.
The RNC is keen on the donation requirement, which means each candidate needs a certain number of individual donors to qualify for the debate stage.