Milwaukee prepares to host 7,000 visitors for GOP debate, RNC meeting and vendor fair

NOW: Milwaukee prepares to host 7,000 visitors for GOP debate, RNC meeting and vendor fair

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Preparations are well underway as thousands will make their way to Milwaukee for the Republican presidential debate and other events expected to draw large crowds to the city.

GOP Debate

The Republican presidential primary debate will be held at Fiserv Forum on Aug. 23. It will begin at 8 p.m. and is anticipated to last around two hours.

Eight candidates have qualified so far for a spot on the debate stage including Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, and Doug Burgum.

To qualify, the Republican National Committee requires candidates to reach at least 1% in multiple eligible polls, gather at least 40,000 donors, and sign a pledge committing to supporting the ultimate GOP nominee.

Former President Donald Trump, who's facing charges in four criminal investigations, has signaled he won't attend citing his lead in the polls. And, whether Trump shows or not, organizers say the debate will go on.

"What I'm hearing is that whoever it is, people are generally excited because it's a way to see democracy in action," said Alison Prange, Chief Operating Officer for the Milwaukee Host Committee. "It's a way for people across the country and around the world to see exactly what Wisconsin is and what we bring to the table."

Prange said they expect 7,000 people to attend next week not only for the debate but for other activities happening on the same day.

RNC Summer Meeting:

Ahead of the debate, delegates will arrive in Milwaukee for their first summer meeting for the 2024 Republican National Convention.

Vendor Fair:

More than 300 Milwaukee-area businesses will get a chance at selling their goods or services during a Convention Partner Fair also being held on Aug. 23.

It will be downtown at the Convention Center from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The event connects local businesses with opportunities around the Republican National Convention that will take place on July 15–18, 2024.

The MKE Host Committee has launched a vendor connection tool on their website for additional information for interested groups to learn more about convention-related opportunities.

"It's a first taste people are going to get that haven't been here before and they get to see what we have to offer," Prange said.


The city is expected to close some roads around Fiserv for security purposes, but those details have not been released yet.

In anticipation of large crowds, Milwaukee Area Technical College will close its downtown campus Wednesday because of its close proximity to Fiserv.

A notice was sent to students this week alerting them classes may be held online, if possible.

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