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It’s official: GOP presidential debate coming to Alabama

The Republican National Committee confirmed in a memo Friday that the fourth GOP presidential debate will be held in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Alabama Daily News first reported the state would get a debate back in the May 8 edition of Inside Alabama Politics.

The December 9 debate comes with heightened polling requirements that could make the stage less crowded than before, according to a memo sent to campaigns on Friday by Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel.

To make the stage, candidates must garner at least 6% in two approved national polls, or 6% in one poll from two separate early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

According to the memo, first reported by The New York Times, participants also need to amass at least 80,000 unique donors, with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory, in 20 or more states.

Candidates have until 48 hours before the debate to satisfy the requirements.

The RNC has increased the necessary markers with each debate, an effort intended to winnow the once sprawling field. Meeting some of the qualifications has been tough for some candidates, including former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who participated in the debut debate but hasn’t met subsequent qualifications. Former Vice President Mike Pence, on stage for the first two debates, suspended his campaign last week after it appeared likely that he wouldn’t qualify for the third.

The third GOP debate, taking place Wednesday in Miami, requires campaigns to meet 4% in polls and notch 70,000 unique donors.

Although the party won’t confirm until Monday who will be on stage for the third event, it’s anticipated that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will participate.

As he did for the first two debates, former President Donald Trump — the GOP field’s current front-runner — is skipping next week’s gathering, instead counterprogramming with a rally in Hialeah, Florida, about a half-hour drive from the debate site. Trump’s campaign has called for primary debates to be canceled, saying last month that the RNC must instead “refocus its manpower” on defeating Democrat Joe Biden next year.

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