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Zach Montellaro

Christie will join DeSantis, Haley, Ramaswamy on debate stage

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie crossed the polling threshold in the days before the Monday deadline to qualify for the debate. | Mark J. Terrill/AP

Four candidates will be on stage for Wednesday’s GOP presidential primary debate in Alabama, including a surprise last-minute inclusion of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The Republican National Committee announced late Monday that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, businessperson Vivek Ramaswamy and Christie will appear at the University of Alabama.

DeSantis, Haley and Ramaswamy all easily cleared the requirements set by the national party committee to make it on stage. But Christie’s inclusion came at the last minute, after he apparently crossed the polling threshold in the days before the Monday deadline.

NewsNation, The Megyn Kelly Show on SiriusXM, The Washington Free Beacon and Rumble are co-hosting the debate, which will begin at 8 p.m. EST.

Former President Donald Trump will once again not be on stage. The field’s frontrunner would have easily cleared the debate qualifications, but he has opted to not participate in any of the RNC-sanctioned debates and has urged the party committee to cancel the future showdowns.

Instead of scheduling public counterprogramming, as he has done for past debates, Trump will be attending a fundraiser in Florida.

Wednesday’s debate will be the smallest primary debate of the cycle so far. Five candidates participated in the showdown last month. But since then, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has ended his campaign.

Earlier on Monday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum also dropped his bid. In a statement, he blamed his exclusion from the debate stage as a reason why he was exiting the race.

“The RNC’s mission is to win elections,” Burgum said. “It is not their mission to reduce competition and restrict fresh ideas by ‘narrowing the field’ months before the Iowa caucuses or the first in the nation New Hampshire primary.”

Burgum participated in the first and second debates. But he failed to qualify for last month’s third debate and would not have qualified for this week’s.

The RNC has not publicly announced if it will host any future debates. But POLITICO reported earlier on Monday that both ABC News and CNN are exploring the possibility of sponsoring upcoming debates.

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