Former New Jersey governor and frequent Trump critic Chris Christie said Wednesday evening he has met the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) donor criteria to make the first debate stage.
The RNC set debate requirements in early June that GOP candidates must meet to qualify for the August debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, including a 40,000 unique donor threshold. Christie, who entered the presidential race just days after the RNC announced its rules, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper he has exceeded the donor criteria, surpassing the amount of contributors he garnered during the same time frame when he previously ran in 2016.
“Last night, we went past 40,000 unique donors in just 35 days,” Christie said. “There is a donor in every state in America, and we have over 200 donors in 36 states.” (RELATED: ‘He’s Afraid’: 2024 GOP Contenders Respond To Reports That Trump Might Skip Debates)
In addition to the RNC’s debate criteria, the committee is also enforcing rules on polling and signing a loyalty pledge to support the eventual nominee. Candidates must be polling at least 1% in three national polls, or in two national polls and one in a key early primary state, conducted after July 1, according to the RNC’s website.
The loyalty pledge has drawn criticism from former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd and Christie over potentially forcing candidates to back Trump. Christie has called the requirement a “useless idea,” and criticized Trump for not taking the pledge “seriously” in 2015 when he signed it and later changed his tune, which he echoed Wednesday evening.
“I’ll take it every bit as seriously as Donald Trump took it in 2016. We all signed the pledge in 2016,” Christie said. “At the next debate after we all signed the pledge, one of the questioners said, ‘You all signed. Would you reaffirm it tonight by raising your hand?’ And nine of us raised our hand, including me, and Donald Trump didn’t.”
The RealClearPolitics (RCP) average for a 2024 national Republican primary, based on polls conducted between June 13 and July 11, indicates the former president is ahead by over 30 points, and Christie is polling at 2.6%.
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