And then there were four on the debate stage

Four Republican presidential hopefuls have qualified for the next primary debate, the Republican National Committee announced Monday night, making Wednesday’s debate the smallest stage yet. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all met the donor and polling thresholds to qualify (although Christie barely met the polling threshold, thanks in part to a poll released shortly before Monday’s deadline). 

Donald Trump once again will not attend the debate.

The candidates will face off in Alabama and the debate will be hosted by NewsNation, “The Megyn Kelly Show” on SiriusXM and The Washington Free Beacon.

The announcement came hours after North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ended his campaign, and he slammed the RNC’s debate requirements in the process, saying, “None of their debate criteria relate to the qualifications related to actually doing the job of the president.”

Meanwhile, the RNC is considering ending its requirement that candidates only participate in debates that the party sponsors, and the committee could make a decision to lift that prohibition on unsanctioned debates this week, per The New York Times.  

In other campaign news … 

Pressure mounts on Christie: The Times reports that “Republican donors, strategists and pundits” opposed to Trump are pushing Christie to drop out of the race and back Haley. 

Staffing up: President Joe Biden’s campaign announced his campaign team in South Carolina, which NBC’s Mike Memoli writes is “part of a broader ramp-up as voting rapidly approaches and the incumbent faces a last-minute primary opposition from Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn.” 

Cheney’s warning: Former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., warned in a “TODAY” show interview that “there’s no question” Trump will refuse to leave the White House if he is elected for another term, and she said the country would be safer if Democrats controlled the House. 

Trump trial: It appears that potential jurors in Trump’s federal election interference trial have received notices about their availability to serve during the proceeding, per NBC’s Jonathan Allen. 

Ballot push: A super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent presidential run is planning to spend up to $15 million to put his name on the ballot in 10 states, per the Times. 

Spoiler alert: Citizens to Save our Republic has a new TV ad arguing how third-party candidates are spoilers and could help Trump in 2024, NBC’s Katherine Koretski reports. 

Maura’s mission: Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey is leading the Democratic Governors Association’s effort to elect more women governors, looking to build on the record number of women serving in governors’ mansions.