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National Review
National Review
3 Jun 2023
Brittany Bernstein

NextImg:Hutchinson Criticizes Loyalty-Pledge Requirement for GOP Debate

Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson on Friday criticized the RNC’s requirements for candidates to be able to participate in debates — but said he’ll meet the criteria because getting on the debate stage is “very important.”

The RNC announced the requirements on Friday, more than two months before the first GOP debate is set to take place in Milwaukee, Wisc. Under the rules, candidates must obtain at least 40,000 unique donors, including at least 200 unique donors coming from 20 or more states and territories. They must also sign a “loyalty pledge” vowing to support the eventual nominee.

Candidates will also have to poll at 1 percent in at least three national polls or 1 percent in two national polls and in one early state poll from two separate “carve out” states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

“First of all, I’m going to meet the criteria, whatever is set, to get on the debate stage,” Hutchinson told Fox News. “It’s very important.”

However, he said he would have preferred candidates be required to sign a pledge not to run as a third-party candidate, rather than a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee.

Hutchinson is likely trying to avoid a commitment to supporting Trump, if he were to win the nomination. The former Arkansas governor has been a vocal critic of the former president. In March, Hutchinson suggested Trump should drop out of the presidential race if he is indicted. “It’s out of respect for the institution of the presidency of the United States. And, that’s a distraction that is difficult to run for the highest office in the land under those circumstances,” Hutchinson said in an interview with USA Today.

Hutchinson later appeared to walk back his comments after Trump was in fact indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. “It is a dark day for America when a former president is indicted on criminal charges. While the grand jury found credible facts to support the charges, it is important that the presumption of innocence follows Mr. Trump. . . . Finally, it is essential that the decision on America’s next president be made at the ballot box and not in the court system.”

Hutchinson also spoke out against the 40,000-donor requirement on Friday, saying it would punish candidates who are “just building” their campaign or national efforts and would “reflect a comprehensive effort” to bring in online donations, though some candidates might prefer to share their message in other ways.

“So I’m here in Iowa, and I know Iowa does a good job of vetting candidates,” Hutchinson said. “This will probably deprive them of having some candidates on the debate stage.”

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