From how to watch to who's participating: What to know about the 2nd GOP presidential primary debate

The RNC has upped the threshold to qualify for the debate stage.

BySarah Beth Hensley ABCNews logo
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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The leading 2024 Republican presidential candidates will go head-to-head once again at the second GOP primary debate on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

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After last month's debate in Milwaukee, candidates are set to spar again -- this time, with potentially fewer on stage as a result of higher thresholds for candidates to qualify. And once again, the front-runner, former President Donald Trump, is expected to skip the event.

Here's what to know about the second Republican presidential primary debate:

How to watch the debate

The two-hour debate will air live on FOX Business and Univision, the Republican National Committee said. Rumble will be the exclusive RNC livestream provider. Fox News Media's Stuart Varney and Dana Perino and Univision's Ilia Calderón will moderate the debate.

ABC News and 538 will have live updates online of the latest action on the debate stage as well as analysis on the biggest takeaways from the night.

Who will be participating in the presidential debate?

While some candidates are still jockeying for a spot on the debate stage, it appears at least six presidential contenders have earned a spot.

Nine candidates (including Trump) qualified for the first debate; six of those candidates appear to have met the donor and polling thresholds outlined by the RNC to qualify for the debate, according to an analysis from 538.

Those candidates include: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former President Trump.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who participated in the first debate, may have trouble qualifying with the updated RNC requirements.

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How do candidates qualify for the second debate stage?

The qualifications for the second debate stage are different than the first GOP debate.

This time around, the RNC upped the thresholds for candidates to make the debate stage, potentially decreasing the number of candidates who will qualify. Politico first reported on those updated requirements.

To debate, candidates will need to:

  • Reach at least 3% in two national polls, or 3% in one national poll and 3% in two polls conducted from separate early nominating states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada), in order to qualify.
  • Provide evidence of having attained at least 50,000 unique donors to their campaign
  • Sign a pledge to support the party's eventual 2024 nominee if they want to participate.

Candidates must qualify 48-hours before the debate, on Sept. 25, the RNC said.

There's a good chance that fewer candidates will qualify for the second debate than the eight who joined for the party's first debate in August.

Will front-runner Donald Trump attend the debate?

Trump is expected to skip the second Republican primary debate. He will instead visit Detroit to deliver a speech in front of union workers amid a major auto strike, according to a senior adviser.

Trump skipped the first debate, too. Instead, he spoke with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson for an interview that ran the same time as the debate.

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Format of the second debate

During the debate, the candidates will have one minute to answer questions posed by the moderators and 30 seconds for follow-ups, according to guidance Fox sent to campaigns and obtained by ABC News.

Those follow-up questions will be at the moderators' discretion.

There will be no opening or closings statements from the candidates, according to the Fox guidance.

History of debates at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

The second GOP debate will take place at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which has become an "iconic venue" for such events, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said.

The library has hosted many other Republican primary debates over the years, including the debates for the cycles in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

"President Reagan felt strongly that the institution that bore his name should be a 'dynamic intellectual forum' where leaders would debate the future. We are excited to partner with the RNC to host the next Republican presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library," said David Trulio, president and CEO of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

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When are other 2024 presidential debates happening?

The third Republican presidential primary debate will be held in Miami, Florida, in early November.

The RNC has not yet confirmed the details of the third debate including its venue, date or sponsors.

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