DES MOINES, Iowa – Former President Donald Trump may not show up at the first Republican presidential primary debate, but that doesn’t bother North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
The multi-millionaire former software company CEO turned two-term governor who’s a dark horse for the 2024 GOP nomination said in a one-on-one interview with Fox News Digital as he walked through the Iowa State Fair that “we’re looking forward to the debate. We’re excited to be there, and we’re excited regardless of who shows up.”
Burgum is one of eight candidates (so far) who have met the Republican National Committee’s criteria to make the debate stage at the Fox News hosted showdown on August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That list also includes Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and entrepreneur and best-selling author Vivek Ramaswamy.
“It’s obviously an opportunity for us,” Burgum said in his Friday interview,” because…of the eight candidates who’ve made the stage, we’re the least well know. By definition that gives us the most upside. And part of that is – we’ve already defied the odds because when we launched people said he’ll never make the debate stage. People said you could never build a global software company in Fargo, North Dakota. People said we would never get elected governor when we were down 60 points six months before the primary. So, we like our position, and we are looking forward to the debate.”
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Burgum’s not well known outside his home state of North Dakota and has been running a positive campaign to date, as he introduces himself to voters.
Asked if he’ll have to eventually throw some punches, the governor said “people don’t know who we are and I think people need to find out who we are, what we’ve done, what our vision is for the country. Presidential campaigns need to be about the future, not about the past. If it gets down to two people, then that would be the time to create differentiation but in the meantime, we’ve just got to keep telling our story.”
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But Burgum was apparently critical of some of his rivals, questioning whether they had the experience needed to serve as president.
“I think one of the criteria for running for president ought to be some of your relevant experience,” he emphasized.
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And Burgum pointed to those candidates who “haven’t had an opportunity to work in an executive branch role, which is what the presidency is, that would include people being governor, or if you haven’t worked in the private sector.”
“I think a lot of Americans would look forward to having president who understands what working Americans are actually going through and what it takes to make payroll every two weeks, what I’ve been doing since I was 26 years old. And what it means to cut you own pay to make sure you’ve got enough money to pay people that are working for you,” Burgum stressed. “These are things that I think are prerequisites and we’re counting on the voters to understand that.”