Republicans Set Opening Presidential Debate for August

NEW YORK (AP) -- The opening Republican presidential debate of the 2024 election season will take place in Milwaukee this August, the Republican National Committee decided Thursday.

The rough time and location were the only details finalized as a small group of RNC members met behind closed doors in Washington this week to begin the complicated task of coordinating logistics for what is likely to be a crowded and messy primary season. In the coming weeks, the group plans to finalize a broader set of criteria for participation, including the requirement that each candidate on stage must pledge to support the Republican Party's eventual nominee.

In selecting Milwaukee, the RNC is following its recent tradition of hosting its inaugural presidential debate in the city playing host to the national convention the following year.

"At this time, no other debates have been sanctioned, nor has the final criteria for the first debate been decided," GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel wrote in a message to RNC members Thursday. "We have a long way to go, but I am confident we will be able to showcase our eventual nominee in a world class fashion."

Three high-profile Republicans have already launched White House bids, but as many as a dozen are ultimately expected to enter the 2024 presidential contest. Already, there are sharp divisions over the future of the party and former President Donald Trump's divisive politics.

The committee is considering between 10 and 12 debates between August and its national convention in the summer of 2024.

Republican officials are likely to adopt new criteria for participation, including a new donor threshold to demonstrate broad support among the party's grassroots in addition to a polling threshold of 1% or 2%.

Committee officials also met privately this week with more than a dozen media companies to determine the network partners. They include major television networks like CNN, MSNBC and Fox and lower-profile conservative favorites like Newsmax.

"The committee will continue its work and will release updates as they become available," McDaniel wrote.