GOP Presidential Candidates Larry Elders and Perry Johnson to Sue RNC and Fox Over Exclusion from Wednesday’s Debate, Alleging “Rigged” Process

Republican presidential candidates Larry Elder and Perry Johnson are planning to sue the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Fox over their disqualification for the upcoming primary debate.

Elder, along with other candidates, like Perry Johnson and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, failed to meet the RNC’s criteria for participation. Frustrated by what he perceives as a rigged system, Elder has threatened to sue the RNC and Fox, to halt the debate, unless he is accepted onto the stage by 2:00p.m., today. He would also file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

“I intend to sue the RNC to halt Wednesday’s presidential debate,” Elder wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“I said from the beginning that it appeared the rules of the game were rigged, little did we know just how rigged it is. For some reason, the establishment leaders at the RNC are afraid of having my voice on the debate stage. Just as I had to fight to successfully be on the ballot in the California recall election, I will fight to be on that debate stage because I fully met all of the requirements to do so,” he added.

The RNC committee, according to Elder’s campaign, is rejecting the Rasmussen poll he included in his package as evidence of his qualifications because the poll is allegedly “affiliated” with Trump.

Below is the information from his campaign:

  • Prior to the August 21, 2023, 9p.m. EST deadline for qualification for the first Republican National Committee debate, Larry Elder’s campaign submitted a strong, in-depth qualification package to David Bossie, director of debates for the RNC.
  • Larry Elder’s qualification package included proof of:
    • EXCEEDING the RNC’s requirement of at least 40,000 individual donors;
    • EXCEEDING the RNC’s requirement of 200 donors in 20 states (Elder nearly doubled that, with 200 donors in at least 37 states);
    • MEETING the RNC’s polling requirement of at least 1% in select polls, and providing the detailed cross tabs of such polls;
    • SIGNING the “Beat Biden” loyalty pledge to support the ultimate
      GOP nominee;
    • AGREEING to allow the RNC to view our Wined fundraising totals which exceed their requirements;
    • Other pertinent required information to participate in the debate
  • Only after receiving our completed qualification package, did the RNC inform us that they were not accepting Rasmussen Polls as qualifying toward the debate.
    • The reason, as stated by the RNC, is that Rasmussen Polls have ties to former President Donald Trump – an individual who is not even participating in the upcoming debate. Larry Elder has no knowledge about whether Donald Trump has ever worked with Rasmussen previously.
    • In fact, Rasmussen Polls is a reputable, nationally-recognized firm and one of only THREE polling firms who accurately predicted the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election (along with the Trafalgar Group.)

In an X post, Elder said en route to Milwaukee, “We’re filing an emergency injunction to get me up there. This is absolutely BS.”


In another post, Elder said, The RNC contacts me and says I can’t use Rasmussen because it is, “affiliated” with the Trump campaign. I didn’t know that. It’s not affiliated with my campaign.”

“Rasmussen says Trump did not pay for a poll, did not even suggest a poll, and that they have no business not using Rasmussen to be one of the polls that Elder submits. Also, after we found out they weren’t going to accept Rasmussen, we submitted another poll where I’m over 1%. We didn’t submit it until after the deadline because we didn’t know that Rasmussen was going to be rejected. And the poll didn’t publish its results until after the deadline, but they finished their polling before the deadline.”


In a press release, Perry Johnson blasted the RNC for a corrupt and rigged debate process.

“The corrupt and rigged RNC debate process has been a trainwreck from the beginning,” said Johnson.

“Our campaign hit every metric put forward by the RNC and we have qualified for the debate. It is clear that from the beginning, the RNC knew who they wanted on the stage and who they wanted to ban from the stage,” he added.

“It is clear that from the beginning, the RNC knew who they wanted on the stage and who they wanted to ban from the stage. Simply put, this is a flawed decision of a poorly run process of a corrupt organization. This morning, I am working with my team to take legal action against the RNC,” said Johnson.

Read the full release below:

Internally, the Johnson campaign believed it had hit the polling threshold Thursday, August 17th with the release of the Trafalgar National Poll in combination with the Harvard/Harris Qualifying Poll & Big Village Qualifying Poll.

It was however widely reported that Perry Johnson qualified by hitting the polling threshold on Friday, August 18th with the release of the Trafalgar Iowa Qualifying Poll, Trafalgar New Hampshire Qualifying Poll & Victory Insights National Qualifying Poll.

Every major news outlet reported that Johnson had made the stage, including Politico who had been tracking qualifications with strict standards. 538 also recognized Perry as having made the stage and moved him to “Major Candidate Status” in their tracking.

At 2:30pm on Friday, August 18th, after the media reports were released, the RNC data department reached out to the Johnson campaign with instructions on how to certify the total number of unique donors.

At 4:30pm on Friday, August 18th, the Johnson campaign officially received logistics information from Fox News, and continued to receive logistics information throughout the weekend, including a scheduled walkthrough for staff and a personal walkthrough for Mr. Johnson.

The Johnson campaign, through an RNC approved third party, submitted the report certifying 50k+ donors to the RNC at 12:15pm on August 21st, and requested the Beat Biden Pledge to meet the final requirement listed in the Chairwoman’s memo.

The RNC confirmed the donor requirement had been met.

At 2:03pm, RNC Chief of Staff Richard Walters sent the Beat Biden Pledge to the Johnson campaign and notified the campaign for the first time that Johnson needed one more national qualifying poll to reach the threshold. This was the first communication the campaign had ever received from the RNC regarding his actual status in the debate.

At 3:38pm, the Johnson campaign responded and sent along its four media reported qualifying polls which all met the RNC’s threshold and asked for clarification.

Trafalgar National Qualifying Poll

Victory Insights National Qualifying Poll

Trafalgar Iowa Qualifying Poll

Trafalgar New Hampshire Qualifying Poll

At 3:47pm, Walters notified the campaign that the RNC was not recognizing the Victory Insights poll because it was ‘not a national poll.’ That assessment is completely misguided.

  1. The poll sampled 800 respondents from across the country per the RNC’s guidelines.
  2. The poll was properly balanced by region.a. When conducting a state poll, you don’t have to talk to someone in every single town/city for the state poll to be accurate. Regional balancing is not just common but also best practice and happens in every poll.
  3. The poll was consistent with the results of all other national polling.

At 5:43pm the Johnson campaign notified the RNC of its disagreement in that assessment and sent along a NEWSMAX/McLaughlin poll that again, showed Perry at 1% nationwide. The campaign sent a follow up at 9:49pm.

At approximately 11 p.m., Mr. Johnson received a call from Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and David Bossie, explaining that the McLaughlin poll would not be counted either and that he was not on the debate stage.

But McDaniel/Bossie did say that any poll which left a particular candidate out, could be a qualifying poll as well.

The Johnson campaign sent the RNC the Harvard/Harris poll, which asked a question excluding President Trump, in which Perry Johnson received 1%. Another qualifying poll.

The RNC responded, claiming the poll was biased.


  1. Mr. Johnson clearly reached all thresholds as required by the RNC and as reported by media outlets.
  2. The RNC went over and above to disqualify Mr. Johnson based on flawed and biased polling assessments.
  3. Mr. Johnson has qualified for the debates and will be in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
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Jim Hᴏft is the founder and editor of The Gateway Pundit, one of the top conservative news outlets in America. Jim was awarded the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award in 2013 and is the proud recipient of the Breitbart Award for Excellence in Online Journalism from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation in May 2016.

You can email Jim Hᴏft here, and read more of Jim Hᴏft's articles here.


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