GOP presidential candidate Will Hurd on Tuesday knocked the Republican National Committee (RNC) over a “lack of transparency and confusion” surrounding candidate requirements for the party’s first primary debate.
“The lack of transparency and confusion around the RNC’s debate requirements is antithetical to the democratic process. The polling standards are arbitrary, unclear, and lack consistency. This is an unacceptable process for a presidential election. The American people deserve better,” Hurd said in a statement shared on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.
To get on the debate stage in Milwaukee on Wednesday, candidates had until 48 hours beforehand to meet several requirements set by the RNC, including specific donor and polling thresholds.
Hurd wrote that his campaign hit the RNC’s donor requirement in fewer than 60 days and that it had “registered in eight reputable national polls and eight reputable state polls” — but he doesn’t appear to have reached the formal polling benchmark.
He was kept off the list of eight qualifying candidates released by the RNC on Monday.
Candidates needed at least 40,000 unique donors to their principal presidential campaign committee, including at least 200 from each of 20 or more states and territories.
They also had to be polling at 1 percent or higher in at least three authorized national polls — or in two national polls together with one “early state poll” from two separate “carve out” states recognized by the RNC: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Polls had to survey at least 800 registered likely Republican voters in order to be recognized.
Hurd knocked the RNC for discounting “polls that included independents and Democrats willing to vote for a Republican,” arguing that the party needs “a clear understanding of what qualifies as a likely Republican voter.”
The RNC announced its criteria in early June, and Hurd entered the race later that month.
“The RNC worked over two years to deliver a transparent and fair primary process that will put our eventual nominee in the best position to beat Biden,” spokesperson Keith Schipper said in a statement.
“Criteria to qualify for the first debate was clearly presented to campaigns and RNC leadership and members of the debate committee were in constant communication with candidates and campaigns throughout the qualifying period,” Schipper said.
Hurd also took issue with the RNC’s requirement that candidates sign a loyalty pledge which, among other promises, includes a vow to back whoever becomes the eventual GOP nominee. Hurd has said he would not sign the pledge since launching his campaign in June.
“I have said from day one of my candidacy that I will not sign a blood oath to Donald Trump. The biggest difference between me and every single candidate who will be on the debate stage in Milwaukee is that I have never bent the knee to Trump,” Hurd said.
“It’s disappointing being kept off the debate stage, but I will not be deterred.”
—Updated at 3:37 p.m.