In an interview on Friday, Mr Elder said he was only about halfway through the donor threshold, and because his name is often left out in Republican polls, reaching 1 percent could be impossible. For candidates like him, he admitted, making it to the podium for his campaign is existential.
“It is crucial for me to get on that debate stage; that’s plan A, and plan B is to make plan A work,” he said, suggesting there is no other option.
Some candidates, such as Mr. Pence and Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, may also be ineligible. Mr. Pence, who has easily passed the voting threshold but is lagging far behind in fundraising, launched an email blitz on Wednesday imploring 40,000 people to send his campaign $1. Mr. Hutchinson is still short of 40,000, but has made it 1 percent in a qualifying national poll this month.
North Dakota governor Doug Burgum may still be eligible, in part because Mr. Burgum, a wealthy former software executive, is offering $20 gift cards to the first 50,000 people to donate at least $1 to his campaign. He’s also pumping up his position in early state polls with a well-funded ad campaign.
“Government Burgum will absolutely be on the debate stage next month,” said its spokesman, Lance Trover.
Mr. Burgum is not alone in his creative fundraising strategies. Mr. Ramaswamy, who, like Mr. Burgum, is wealthy enough to self-finance his presidential bid, offers donors a 10 percent discount from the donations they get from those they convince to give to the Ramaswamy campaign. Mr Suarez last week said he would enter everyone who sends his campaign $1 to a raffle for Lionel Messi’s first game with Inter Miami, the South Florida Major League Soccer club.