Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Pence Makes the Cut

It was touch-and-go there for a while, since Mike Pence doesn't have the money to be showering "supporters" with $20 gift cards. However, the former VP just crossed the 40,000 donor/at least 200 donors in 20 states threshold set by the RNC. So, he'll get to join in on the fun, such as it is.

With Pence earning an invite, it means there will be eight qualifiers, with Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) clearing the bar, in addition to Pence. There's still time to qualify, but Mayor Francis Suarez (R-Miami), Will Hurd, Larry Elder, Asa Hutchinson and Perry Johnson are having enormous difficulty meeting the donor requirement, the polling requirement, or both. So, the field is probably set.

Pence's qualifying sets up a potentially interesting storyline, namely the battle between the former VP and his former running mate. There's only one person who will be on stage who Trump blames for his not being president right now, and that person is Mike Pence. That said, when it comes to a showdown between the two now-rivals, there is one fly in the ointment: Trump might not show up. He's suggested that it's not worth his time and, despite much pressure from the RNC, he's yet to back off that position. If he skips the event, maybe the RNC can hire Alec Baldwin to appear in his stead. If nothing else, it would definitely motivate Trump to show up for debate #2. (Z)

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