The super PAC supporting former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ended its first TV ad with an unusual plea to viewers.
Instead of a more typical request for support, Tell It Like it Is PAC ended its spot with white text that flashed on the screen: “Donate today, get Chris Christie on the debate stage.”
For GOP presidential candidates like Christie who are struggling to break through in national polls, a spot on the debate stage is a critical way to amplify their message and reach more voters. But candidates have to meet a handful of criteria, from pledging to support the party's nominee and not participate in unsanctioned debates to polling and donor thresholds.
Candidates need at least 40,000 unique donors, including 200 unique donors from at least 20 states and territories — helping to explain why Christie's super PAC is using its big money to direct people to give smaller donations to Christie.
And the former New Jersey governor's allies aren’t the only ones highlighting this debate requirement in recent campaign ads. Other candidates have called out the debate criteria in digital ads — a common fundraising tool — to appeal to more donors.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s campaign recently launched a Facebook ad linking to his fundraising page, with a message that mentioned the two frontrunners: former President Doanld Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Trump and DeSantis are bickering and Americans are still in crisis,” the message read. “I am running for President to save this country from people like that and actually lead. Can you chip in today to help me get on the debate stage?”
Hutchinson’s campaign also launched search ads on Google, imploring supporters to help him get on the debate stage with the message, “Even $1 helps.”
Businessman Perry Johnson mentioned the RNC donor requirement in one of his campaign’s recent Facebook ads, offering a copy of his book — currently retailing for $10 in paperback — to anyone who donated $1.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who is independently wealthy but is not well known, also referenced the donor threshold in a new Facebook ad.
“We need 40,000 donors to get Doug on the debate stage," the ad reads. "Will you join our campaign for a better, stronger America?”