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Candidates Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Hold Third Presidential Debate At The University Of Nevada
Crew members adjust the microphone ahead of the third presidential debate in Las Vegas on Oct. 19, 2016. Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Eyes on 2024: Counting down to the GOP debate

Republican presidential candidates have two weeks to qualify for the first debate on Aug. 23.

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Republican presidential hopefuls have just two weeks left to qualify for the first presidential primary debate, which is set for Aug. 23. Candidates must hit the minimum threshold of 40,000 unique donors and the polling thresholds 48 hours prior to that debate, and also commit to supporting the eventual GOP nominee. 

So far, seven candidates have appeared to qualify for the debate in Milwaukee: former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. (It’s not clear if Trump will show up.)

Former Vice President Mike Pence and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have both hit the polling thresholds, but they’re still working to reach the minimum donor requirement. Over the weekend, GOP businessman Perry Johnson announced he’s hit the 40,000 unique donor threshold, but he’ll need to perform better at the polls to qualify.

But the Republican National Committee is raising the bar for the second debate in September, increasing the donor and polling thresholds, making it tougher for some candidates to make the stage.

In other campaign news … 

Trump talk: Federal prosecutors on Friday sought to prevent Trump from publicly disclosing evidence in his election interference case, noting that “such disclosure could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case.”

Debatable: California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s spokesman called DeSantis’ proposed rules for a Fox News debate “a joke,” casting doubt on the possibility that the two governors could face off. 

Flight risk: NBC News’ Matt Dixon reports that DeSantis’ effort to stop migrants from coming to the Florida Keys involved state law enforcement agents “conducting surveillance flights that went against state policies and best safety practices,” per internal records.

Bigelow’s warning: Hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, who has spent $20 million boosting DeSantis’ presidential bid, warned that he could pull his financial support unless the governor moderates his positions, telling Reuters, “Extremism isn’t going to get you elected.”

Haley’s challenge: The New York Times unpacks the challenges facing former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley as she struggles to break through the GOP presidential primary field. 

Harris’ opportunity: The New York Times reports how Vice President Kamala Harris is stepping into a more visible role on the campaign trail in recent weeks, taking on fights against DeSantis and speaking out for abortion access.  

Pence faces protesters: NBC News’ Sarah Dean reports on how former Vice President Mike Pence’s role after the 2020 election and on Jan. 6, 2021 is centerstage during his presidential bid, including one scene where pro-Trump protesters showed up to his event and called him a “traitor.” 

On second thought: Two months after posting a social media video celebrating Juneteenth, GOP businessman Vivek Ramaswamy told a crowd in Iowa he wanted to “Cancel Juneteenth or one of the other useless ones we made up,” NBC News’ Alex Tabet and Katherine Koretski report.   

Will he, won’t he? Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips told CBS Sunday that he wants Democrats who are “well positioned, well prepared, have good character and competency” to jump into the presidential primary against President Biden. Phillips said he personally has “not decided yet” if he is going to run for president.

Buckeye special: Tuesday’s special election in Ohio to raise the threshold to amend the state’s constitution, impacting a November abortion vote, is also setting the stage for a hotly contested GOP Senate primary, NBC News’ Henry J. Gomez reports.