Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Democrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies MORE, Republican National Committee chairman, says that potential presidential contenders will have to poll above certain levels to earn a spot in the GOP debates.
In a radio interview on the "Hugh Hewitt Show" Monday, the conservative host asked Priebus how the debates would work if there were 20 candidates vying to be heard.
“You can’t,” Priebus said. “You can’t do 20 people. … You have to have certain thresholds in place, so you have to be at 1 percent of the vote in Iowa, and that threshold can move like a slide rule based on the proximity to the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primaries, just like it did before.”
Priebus said the thresholds would be determined in coordination between the RNC and the media outlet conducting the debate and that none of the minimum requirements had yet been set.
Candidate thresholds for debates are nothing new, but could be a critical component of the Republican primaries in 2016, as the GOP is expected to field a large and diverse field of candidates.
A Gravis poll in Iowa released last week showed each of nine candidates getting at least 4 percent support in the Hawkeye State. A Fox News poll of Iowa conducted in late 2014 showed 13 candidates getting at least 1 percent support there.
There are at least 14 candidates still considering a run for the White House on the GOP side, including 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), Dr. Ben Carson, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Republicans are happy with what they view as a strong bench of contenders, but the logistical problems of such an expansive field are becoming a worry.
The RNC has scheduled nine debates, beginning in October of this year. The first ballots for the Iowa caucuses won’t be cast until several months later.
The RNC has also shortened the primary period so the party has more time to coalesce around the GOP candidate ahead of the general election.