Updated Jul 22, 2023, 7:59am EDT

Vivek Ramaswamy says he’s qualified for the RNC debate

REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

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Vivek Ramaswamy has officially qualified for the upcoming Republican National Committee debate in August, his campaign told Semafor.

Ramaswamy, a successful investor running on an “America First” platform that he says will build on Donald Trump’s presidency, wasn’t registering in the polls when he first announced his presidential run in February. His campaign says he met the RNC’s 40,000 donor fundraising requirement back in May and that they have over 65,000 unique donors to date. He’s also officially met the RNC polling rule, which requires a candidate to have at least 1% in three separate independent national surveys recognized by the committee. As part of his finance efforts, he’s offered fundraisers the chance to keep 10% of any donations they raise for his campaign.

His team cited the July 9-12 and July 14-16 Morning Consult polls, where Ramaswamy sat at third place with 8% support, as well as the recently released Kaplan Strategies poll, conducted July 17-18, that had the 37-year-old tied for second place with 12% of support. Other polls have Ramaswamy lower on the list — the Real Clear Politics average has him at fourth place with 5.3% support nationally.

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Ramaswamy also said Saturday that he plans to sign the RNC’s loyalty pledge — a requirement that each candidate vows to support the eventual Republican nominee. This has been perhaps the most difficult RNC requirement for Republican candidates: Many have dodged when pressed on whether they’d sign the pledge, and some have flatly rejected the idea.

“The RNC’s debate stage criteria are stringent but fair,” Ramaswamy said in a statement. “I am a first-time candidate who started with very low name ID, no political donors, and no pre-existing fundraising lists. If an outsider can clear the bar, politically experienced candidates should be able to as well: if you can’t hit these metrics by late August, you have absolutely no chance of defeating Joe Biden in the general election.”

Qualifying for the August debate checks off a key initial goal in Ramaswamy’s presidential run: The opportunity to square off front and center against a number of more seasoned politicians, and in his eyes, the chance to make his first real mark in the race.

A major question is whether Trump will be among them, however — the former president has so far indicated he is likely to skip the first debate and coast on his large lead in the polls. RNC chair Ronna McDaniel has tried to change his mind, calling it a “mistake” to not debate his competitors this week.

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  • Ramaswamy’s opponents don’t seem publicly concerned about his rise in the polls, as I reported earlier this week: One advisor on a rival campaign compared him to “the fajitas that go by you at the restaurant.“ “They make noise, look exciting, and come on the fun plate. But if you order it, it’s too much, too annoying to assemble, and you wish you just ordered tacos,” the advisor said.