Last week’s Republican primary presidential debate was the last one on the GOP’s calendar before the Iowa caucuses next month.
The Republican National Committee announced last week it had completed its involvement in debates during the 2024 primary, but would allow candidates to participate in non-RNC debates without risk of being penalized by the party.
CNN stepped forward offering to host a debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 10, just prior to the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15.
However, the standard CNN has set for the debate is that “candidates must receive at least 10% in three separate national and/or Iowa polls of Republican caucusgoers or primary voters.”
Only three candidates meet that threshold: Former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
So far only DeSantis has committed to participating in the debate, Axios reported.
“Between the lines: Haley has been noncommittal on the prospect of facing one-on-one DeSantis ahead of Iowa, even as she has also been calling on Trump to break his debate boycott,” the news outlet said.
NBC affiliate KTIV-TV in Sioux City, Iowa, reported Friday that Haley “said former President Donald Trump is ‘going to’ need to be on a debate stage before the Iowa caucus, arguing he needs to take his case directly to Iowans.”
DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin told Axios the reason Haley’s not anxious to get on the stage with the Florida governor is because of her performance in last week’s debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“After that loss, it is no wonder why Haley has failed to confirm she will join Ron DeSantis on the debate stage in Iowa and New Hampshire next month,” he said.
Haley spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas told Axios many offers are coming in for debates following the RNC’s announcement.
“We look forward to debating in Iowa and continuing to show voters why Nikki is the best candidate to retire Joe Biden and save our country. That debate should include Donald Trump,” Perez-Cubas said.
DeSantis has put a lot of time in Iowa and is betting big on a strong performance in the caucuses.
With 36 days to go, we are only growing stronger in the Hawkeye State.
The corporate media won’t tell you this, but we have the most state legislative endorsements, the best ground game and organization, and we are the hardest working team. Most importantly, I am the only… pic.twitter.com/owVjGl9vRL
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) December 11, 2023
In fact, he told NBC earlier this month, “We going to win Iowa.”
A Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll released Monday showed Trump with 51 percent support among likely caucusgoers, up from 43 percent in October, according to NBC.
DeSantis is at 19 percent, up from 16 percent in October, while Haley held steady at 16 percent.
However, the poll found 46 percent of those surveyed were still open to changing their minds, NBC reported.
This would be unfortunate. According to the Iowa Poll, there are still 46% of #IowaCaucus goers still open and looking.
— Bob Vander Plaats (@bobvanderplaats) December 12, 2023
Haley is looking stronger in New Hampshire. She’s in second in the RealClearPolitics average of polls at 18.5 percent, ahead of DeSantis at 8.5 percent. Trump leads with 45.5 percent.
For Haley to debate DeSantis one-in-one in Iowa could potentially help him in the state, which could give him momentum going into the New Hampshire primary, which is scheduled for Jan. 23.
This is likely the reason she’s hesitant to commit to the CNN debate.
Unless Trump agrees to it — highly doubtful — the network perhaps will be left hosting a town hall for DeSantis alone, if it airs any GOP event at all.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.