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Republican presidential candidate North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate, Sept. 27, 2023, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo)

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum Ends 2024 Republican Presidential Bid Days Before Fourth Debate

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday after a stronger-than-expected showing fueled by a gift card-for-campaign donation gimmick that helped get him on the debate stage.

Burgum, a second-term governor and wealthy software entrepreneur, was little known nationally when he launched his 2024 presidential campaign in June, touting his priorities of energy, the economy, and national security, as well as his small-town roots and leadership of the sparsely populated state.

He participated in the first two Republican debates, meeting donor requirements of the Republican National Committee by offering $20 “Biden Relief Cards” - a jab at rising inflation rates during President Joe Biden's term - in exchange for $1 donations. The tactic drew skepticism over its legality, though Burgum's campaign said its legal advisers had reviewed and approved the method.

He failed to qualify for the third debate, however, after coming up short on the polling requirements. And it appeared that he would also not qualify for the fourth debate.

Indeed, he blamed the Republican National Committee, which sets qualifications for the debates, for “nationalizing the primary process and taking the power of democracy away from the engaged, thoughtful citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire.”

“It is not their mission to reduce competition and restrict fresh ideas by ‘narrowing the field’ months before the Iowa caucuses or the first in the nation New Hampshire primary," he wrote in his statement announcing his departure. "These arbitrary criteria ensure advantages for candidates from major media markets on the coasts versus America’s Heartland. None of their debate criteria relate to the qualifications related to actually doing the job of the president.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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