Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are pressuring former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the party’s 2024 nomination, to join them on the debate stage in Iowa next month. Trump has not participated in any GOP debates this year.
CNN is hosting a Republican presidential debate in Des Moines on January 10 – less than a week ahead of the Iowa caucuses, which open the GOP nomination process.
DeSantis and Haley have been duking it out to be seen as the main alternative candidate to Trump, who holds a commanding lead in the polls, both in early-voting states and nationally.
The Republican National Committee hosted four presidential debates this year – all of which Trump skipped. With no party-sponsored debates scheduled for January, the committee announced last week that candidates were free to participate in any forum or debate of their choosing.
DeSantis, who is counting on a strong performance in the Iowa caucuses to build momentum for his campaign, committed to participating in the Iowa debate shortly after CNN announced the event on December 7.
The next day in West Des Moines, the Florida governor called on Trump to participate, arguing the former president “gives a speech and leaves, doesn’t answer questions from voters, doesn’t shake people’s hands, doesn’t visit all the different counties [in Iowa] and then has not been willing to stand on the debate stage.”
DeSantis was critical of Trump and Haley for not immediately agreeing to debate as he had done.
“If you’re not willing to debate in Iowa on the eve of the caucus, that shows the voters a lot about you and about your willingness to engage on these issues,” DeSantis said on a call with Iowa reporters Wednesday.
On Friday, Haley accepted CNN’s invitation to join the Iowa debate while also pushing for Trump to appear onstage with them.
“As the debate stage continues to shrink, it’s getting harder for Donald Trump to hide,” the former South Carolina governor said in a statement.
CNN’s Republican presidential debate in Iowa is scheduled to take place at 9 p.m. ET on January 10 at Drake University in Des Moines and will be moderated by anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.
To qualify for participation in the Iowa debate, candidates must receive at least 10% in three separate national and/or Iowa polls of Republican caucusgoers or primary voters that meet CNN’s standards for reporting, according to the network. One of the three polls must be an approved CNN poll of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers. The qualifying window for the debate closes on January 2.