Many top Republicans are convinced that the debates — what format they take, who can participate, and how they are designed — will play a significant role in determining who wins the primary. They may also narrow the field: Party officials say they are likely to implement thresholds for candidates to qualify for debates; turnout for the first debate could include standards like 40,000 to 50,000 donors and average at least 1 percent in polls. Those thresholds could be raised in later debates, which could eliminate lower-performing contenders.

Businessman and author Vivek Ramaswamy, a lower-polling candidate who largely self-finances his campaign, expressed confidence during a recent interview with POLITICO that he would make it to the debate stage, but said he wasn’t sure whether others in the race they would.

“I think it’s going to be tough for some of the other candidates, especially if they didn’t have an existing captive base for this race and I think we’re not going to be the ones scratching the edge off the bottom of the criteria. said Ramaswamy, who is waging his first campaign for elected office.

Another problem is that debate participants will have to commit to supporting whoever wins the party’s nomination. Trump has refused to do so in the current race, though he ended by saying he would support the eventual nominee during the 2016 race. It could also prove difficult for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a possible Trump rival who has said he i will never support trump againeven if he wins the nomination.

«Why would we host a debate arena without all the candidates saying, ‘I’m going to support whoever the voters choose’?» McDaniel said during an appearance Wednesday morning on Fox News, where he announced that the network would host the first debate. “This is about beating Joe Biden, this is about beating what is happening in this country right now, and we can only do it together, so we want all the candidates to commit to that going into this process.”

The RNC faces a number of complicated variables as it decides not only the qualifications for the debate, but also who should host it and when. And the prospect of major news outlets such as CNN, whose CEO Chris Licht has hosted the RNC, being able to host debates has rankled some in the conservative media world. In recent years, CNN has become a favorite punching bag for Trump and other Republicans, many of whom argue that the network’s coverage has been skewed against them.

Among those speaking is Sen. Tim Scott (RS.C.). Scott, who on Wednesday launched a presidential exploratory committee, recently shared an article on Twitter that he called for only conservative-leaning media to be awarded debates.

“I call on conservatives to listen to our leaders without the biased filter of the media,” Scott wrote.

And Charlie Kirk, the conservative commentator and head of conservative activist group Turning Point USA, tweeted after the Fox News debate was announced on Wednesday that he had been «told that CNN and NBC» were «getting multiple RNC debates.»

«I hope that’s not true!» she added. But I wouldn’t be surprised.

However, a person familiar with planning the debate said no decisions on other hosts have yet been made.

Those familiar with the debate process say they hope television outlets will pair up with conservative online platforms to co-host the debate. For the opening debate, viewers will be able to tune in to the conservative streaming platform Rumble. The event will also be co-sponsored by Young America’s Foundation, an organization overseen by former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. It is not yet clear which moderators will be chosen.

Another item for the committee to deal with is Trump, who has emerged as the strong frontrunner in the primary. During the debate organized by Fox News in 2015, the former president famous fought with then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly. Trump has had a cool relationship with the network in recent months, believing that he has given him less-than-favorable coverage as he has moved to promote his likely rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Recently, however, Trump has sat in with the late-night hosts of Fox News, most recently Tucker Carlson.

A Trump spokesman declined to comment on the decision to give Fox News the first debate.

But Trump advisers have privately raised concerns about the August date, with some arguing that it is too soon before the first nominating contests, which are expected to take place in February 2024.