Trump, Haley and DeSantis qualify for CNN Iowa debate

Jan 2, 2024, 3:41 PM

Former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis...

Former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have all qualified for the CNN Iowa debate.

(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis qualified for CNN’s January 10 Republican presidential primary debate in Iowa, the network announced Tuesday. The debate is a final opportunity for candidates to make an impression in front of a national audience before voting begins.

Haley and DeSantis have said they will participate in the debate, which will take place at 9 p.m. ET on January 10 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Just five days before the Iowa caucuses kick off the GOP’s nominating race, will be a one-on-one clash between two candidates vying to emerge as the party’s lone, clear alternative to the former president.

DeSantis’ path to the GOP nomination likely depends on a strong showing in Iowa’s January 15 caucuses. Haley, meanwhile, has climbed in polls in New Hampshire, where a strong performance in the January 23 primary there could also prove as a springboard ahead of her home state’s February 24 primary.

Trump, who holds a commanding lead over the rest of the field and has skipped the first four 2024 GOP primary debates, will participate in a Fox News town hall in Iowa on January 10.

Haley and DeSantis will also appear on CNN for back-to-back town halls on Thursday.

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On the campaign trail in recent days, DeSantis has repeatedly criticized Trump for refusing to participate in GOP primary debates.

“He’s not been willing to come here and answer questions,” DeSantis told reporters last week in Elkader, Iowa. “He parachutes in for 30, 45-minute, hour speech and then just leaves, rather than listening to Iowans answering questions and doing, I think, what it takes to win.”

CNN’s Iowa debate will be moderated by CNN 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 polls to count toward the Iowa debate closed at noon Tuesday.

Three current candidates who have appeared on stage in some previous debates — entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson — did not meet those qualification requirements.

CNN will hold a second debate on January 21 in New Hampshire at New England College, ahead of that state’s primary. The location was originally announced as St. Anselm College.

This story has been updated.

CNN’s Kit Maher contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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Trump, Haley and DeSantis qualify for CNN Iowa debate