Former Vice President Mike Pence has reached the donor threshold to qualify for the first GOP presidential debate later this month in Milwaukee, an aide told CNN on Monday.
The Republican National Committee set a requirement of 40,000 unique donors minimum to qualify for the first debate, in addition to polling requirements and a commitment to support the eventual GOP nominee. Pence had already met the polling criteria to make the stage.
Fox News first reported on Pence reaching the threshold.
As CNN has reported, seven other candidates have met the polling threshold and say they’ve also reached the fundraising requirements for the August debate: Former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
While some candidates offered gift cards or a percentage of the money raised to appeal for donations, Pence and his team relied on direct mail and asking for just $1.
Trump, the current front-runner who was federally indicted in the special counsel’s 2020 election interference probe last week, has not yet committed to participating in the debate. If Trump attends, Pence would be sharing a debate stage with his former running mate and boss.
“Sometimes people ask me what it would be like to debate Donald Trump and I tell people I’ve debated Donald Trump a thousand times. Never with cameras on,” Pence told reporters last week in New Hampshire.
Pence – who often says he’s “well-known” but not “known well” – added that being on the debate stage will allow voters to “take a fresh look” at him.
The former vice president jumped into the race in June and has cast himself as a Reagan conservative. He has called for cuts to government spending, the tax cuts enacted under the Trump administration to be made permanent, increased military spending and domestic energy production, and continued US support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion. He’s also been outspoken against abortion and gender-affirming treatment for minors.
Pence’s path to the nomination, however, is complicated by how voters in his party view his handling of January 6, 2021. While some Republicans have thanked Pence for his actions that day, many Trump supporters remain convinced that Pence could have stopped Congress’ certification of the election results.
In a recent interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Pence said Trump “was wrong then, and he’s wrong now” that he – then the vice president presiding over Congress’ count of the Electoral College vote – had a right to reject the election result.
“The American people deserve to know that President Trump asked me to put him over my oath to the Constitution, but I kept my oath and I always will. And I’m running for president in part because I think anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be President of the United States,” he said.
Pence received more than 7,200 donations last Wednesday, the day after Trump was indicted on federal charges, according to his campaign.
This story has been updated with additional details.