Florida Governor and presidential contender Ron DeSantis is refusing to stand in the shadow of Donald Trump.
DeSantis plans to participate in the first Republican presidential nomination debate “regardless” of whether former President Donald Trump takes the stage at the August showdown.
“I’ll be there regardless. I hope everybody who’s eligible comes. I think it’s an important part of the process and I look forward to being able to be on the stage and introducing our candidacy and our vision and our leadership to a wide audience,” DeSantis said Thursday on “Fox News Tonight.”
Trump, who’s the commanding front-runner in the latest GOP presidential primary polls, has indicated that he may skip the debate. However, Trump campaign officials say the former president has yet to make a final decision on his participation. Trump’s aides have also been looking into options for an alternative event should the former president skip the debate, according to Fox News.
The debate is scheduled for August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and will be hosted by Fox News.
The Republican National Committee (RNC), which is organizing all the GOP presidential nominating debates, is requiring a high donor threshold as well as polling thresholds for candidates to make the stage.
The RNC is also mandating that candidates that meet the thresholds sign a loyalty pledge to back the eventual 2024 GOP nominee, in order to participate in the debate.
The state of Florida is adding a similar loyalty requirement for candidates to be included on the state’s ballot, according to POLITICO.
The new oath, which includes a promise to “endorse” the GOP nominee and requires a candidate to pledge not to run as an independent or third-party candidate, mirrors language adopted by the Republican National Committee for its first debate.
“We were trying to be consistent with what the debate was requiring,” said Evan Power, vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida, who said that campaigns were notified about the changes. “I don’t think this will come as a surprise.”