Vivek Ramaswamy's campaign asks RNC to change third debate rules

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Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy's presidential campaign has lobbied the Republican National Committee (RNC) to change the rules of the third Republican primary debate, which will take place in Miami on Nov. 8.

Ramaswamy is asking the party to allow only the top four candidates in national polling, aside from former President Donald Trump, to be allowed onto the debate stage, according to a letter sent Sunday night to the RNC by Ben Yoho, the CEO of Ramaswamy's campaign.

Yoho asked that the donor threshold be raised to 100,000 unique donors – up from the 70,000-donor threshold in the RNC's current debate criteria. He also requested "greater time for candidates to respond to their competitors," and for a single debate moderator "who is able to enforce debate rules and avoid candidates indiscernibly shouting over each other."

"Another unhelpful debate in November is not an option," Yoho wrote. "Voters are not well-served when a cacophony of candidates with minimal chance of success talk over each other from the edge of the stage, while the overwhelming frontrunner is absent from the center of that same stage."

Chris LaCivita, a Trump campaign adviser, told CBS News after last Wednesday's debate that Trump would also not attend the third debate in Miami. The New York Times first reported on Ramaswamy's letter.

The last primary debate in September featured seven candidates and nearly constant crosstalk among the candidates. The donor and polling thresholds set by the RNC for the third debate are higher and could decrease the number of participants.

In September, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott sent letters to the RNC to ask that early state polling numbers be a bigger factor in November's debate stage podium placement, and for the early state polling threshold to be at least 7%.

Campaigns can't force the RNC to adjust the debate rules, but they are allowed to lobby for changes. CBS News has reached out to the RNC for any statement or reaction to Ramaswamy's or Scott's letters.

Candidates trying to make the November debate in Miami must have at least 4% in two national polls or a combination of at least 4% in one national poll and in two different early-state polls. The date range for polls that would count is Sept. 1 to Nov. 6.

A CBS News poll of Iowa likely caucus goers in mid-September would count toward eligibility requirements for six candidates: Trump (51%), Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (21%), former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (8%), Scott (6%), former Vice President Mike Pence (6%) and Ramaswamy (5%).

In New Hampshire, the CBS News poll of likely primary voters would also help six candidates: Trump (50%), DeSantis (13%), Haley (11%), Ramaswamy (8%), former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (8%) and Scott (5%).

Trump, DeSantis, Ramaswamy and Haley appear to have met the qualifications for the third debate stage, according to a tracker by Politico. Scott's campaign said it has already met the donor threshold, though whether he has reached the polling threshold is still to be determined.

Yoho's letter also took a dig at the reported summit of GOP mega-donors and campaign representatives of DeSantis and Haley that is happening later this month.

"A small group of billionaires has already 'summoned' certain PAC-favored campaigns to a private retreat in Texas to potentially coordinate and consolidate donor support against President Trump," Yoho wrote. He added, "Our party's voters, not mega-donors, should be the ones to properly vet presidential candidates and determine the nominee."

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