Key questions for first Republican debate

The 2024 presidential election cycle is about to ramp up

FILE - The Fiserv Forum is seen Friday, April 7, 2023, in Milwaukee. When Republican candidates for president gather for their first debate Wednesday in Milwaukee, the spotlight will not only be on them, but Wisconsin's role as one of a shrinking handful of genuine battleground states. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File) (Morry Gash, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Arguably the first big event of the 2024 presidential election cycle will take place on Wednesday, when candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president will gather in Milwaukee for their first debate.

Below are some key questions to know ahead of the debate.

Will Donald Trump be a part of the first Republican debate?

It doesn’t look like it. Barring a last-minute change of heart, the former president, who is running again, won’t be in Milwaukee because he doesn’t feel there’s a need to be there.

Trump posted on Truth Social that due to his big lead in the current polls, he won’t be attending the debate.

Who will be at Wednesday’s debate?

Thus far, the following candidates have met the criteria required for debate participation. They are former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former South Carolina Gov. Nikky Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

In order to qualify for the debate, candidates must have donations from 40,00 individuals — which has to include at least 200 individuals from 20 different states — reach 1% in support from several high-quality polls, and sign a loyalty pledge to support the candidate the party eventually nominates.

What will the format be?

The debate will be moderated by Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier of Fox News and it will be a traditional debate where candidates answer questions from the moderators.

Candidates are supposed to have one minute to answer any questions and 30 seconds for follow-up questions.

There will be no opening statements, but each candidate will be given 45 seconds for a closing statement.

The debate is expected to last two hours.

What is next after the first debate?

The next debate has been scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

That debate will be hosted by Fox Business and will have stricter qualifying criteria.

A candidate will need 50,000 individual contributors and needs to poll at least 3% in two national polls or one national poll and two early-voting state polls.

Are you planning to tune into Wednesday’s debate? Let us know why or why not in the comments.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.