Suarez among candidated scrambling to qualify for first RNC debate

DES MOINES — Six presidential candidates have met the polling and fundraising thresholds to qualify for the first televised debate later this month and other candidates are scrambling to get invited.

Just five of the 13 presidential candidates on stage at the Iowa GOP’s Friday night banquet have gotten donations from 40,000 different people and had at least 1% support in public opinion polls the Republican National Committee is recognizing.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has only met that fundraising mark. Suarez sought to build his name recognition among the 12-hundred or so Iowa Republicans at Friday’s event — with a little dig at frontrunners Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump.

“I don’t have a fancy bus. I don’t have a private plane, but we do have these amazing towels with my name on them for the Miami heat that I brought up here and the humidity,” Suarez said, to laughter.

Suarez entered the presidential race in June. “I think we have big problems in this country and I think we need a personality of someone who is a solver of problems, of someone who can bring people together,” Suarez said Friday night.

Suarez touts Miami as a prosperous, flourishing city and a national model for how to get to a balanced federal budget. The next president will have to deal with a global financial “meltdown,” according to Suarez.

“We have to do with our federal government what we have to do every single day in America where we balance our checkbooks and where we now if we put something on the credit card, we’re eventually going to have to pay for it,” Suarez said. “It’s not that complicated.”

In 1985, Suarez’s father, Xavier, became the first Cuban-born mayor of Miami. In 2017, Francis Suarez was elected mayor with nearly 86% of the vote. He was re-elected in 2021 with 80% support.