With less than a week until the first Republican debate on August 23, the candidates are beginning to finetune their strategies. As the presence of Donald Trump seems more and more unlikely, all eyes will be on Ron DeSantis, his immediate follower in the polls, although by a fairly wide margin. Unfortunately for him, a debate memo DeSantis’ campaign had written about possible debate strategies was recently leaked.
The event will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where all the qualified candidates will try to convince the audience that they are better 2024 presidential options than the former president. So far, in addition to DeSantis and Trump, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Doug Burgum, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, Mike Pence, Doug Burgum and Vivek Ramaswamy have met the eligibility requirements to participate.
The leaked document mentioned was disseminated in the last few hours by The New York Times, revealing a memo of instructions that the Florida governor’s campaign had crafted for its candidate. Among them, a point that specifically mentions one of his rivals was highlighted: “Take a sledge-hammer” to Vivek Ramaswamy.
The document seems to have been prepared by the super PAC, Never Back Down, although the organization rejected this theory in statements to The Hill. “This was not a campaign memo, and we were not aware of it prior to the article. We are well accustomed to the attacks from all sides as the media and other candidates realize Ron DeSantis is the strongest candidate best positioned to take down Joe Biden.”
Does anyone else find the memo that was sent to Ron DeSantis about next week’s GOP debate kind of comical?
The memo, as seen below, suggests that DeSantis “Defend Trump when Chris Christie attacks him.” The memo goes on to say “Trump isn’t here so let’s just leave him alone.… pic.twitter.com/nmVOBXHNbB
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) August 17, 2023
As for the memo, this specific reference to Vivek Ramaswamy, the author of “Woke Inc.” could be because he has recently gained momentum and climbed positions in the polls. While he is not yet able to challenge DeSantis for second place, the trend is that such a scenario cannot be ruled out.
In addition, the document suggested that DeSantis should attempt to hinder any strong talking points from Scott or Christie to prevent them from gaining momentum for the second debate. As for the former New Jersey governor, DeSantis should, according to the memo, defend Trump from his attacks.
“Trump isn’t here, so let’s just leave him alone. He’s too weak to defend himself here. We’re all running against him. I don’t think we want to join forces with someone on this stage who’s auditioning for a show on MSNBC,” was one of the suggested lines for when that happened.
The requirements to qualify for the first Republican debate
To be eligible for the debate, the candidates will have to pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee, something both Trump and other candidates have looked down upon. Only DeSantis and Ramaswamy signed the document drawn up by the RNC pledging their cooperation with this requirement.
Part of the GOP pledge reads: “I affirm that if I do not win the 2024 Republican nomination for President of the United States, I will honor the will of the primary voters and support the nominee in order to save our country and beat Joe Biden. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate, nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
In addition, the candidate must have donations from at least 40,000 domestic taxpayers. The campaign must consistently obtain more than 1% in three national polls or two national polls and one state while having “at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in more than 20 states and/or territories.” Finally, the candidate may not participate in any external debates.
The deadline to comply with the requirements will be August 21, just 48 hours before the debate. Only polls conducted after June 1 will be considered valid.