North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) injured a leg Tuesday night playing basketball, and showed up to the venue for the first Republican presidential primary debate on crutches to conduct a walk-through Wednesday afternoon.
While for most of Wednesday it remained uncertain whether Burgum, a long-shot candidate, would participate in the debate, at around 5:30 p.m. Eastern the governor posted a photo of himself on crutches with the caption “I’m in” on X, formerly known as Twitter. . Burgum had earlier told CNN that he tore his Achilles’ tendon and would consult a doctor before deciding if he would appear on the debate stage.
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Burgum’s injury, first reported by CNN, occurred while he was playing a game of pickup basketball with his staff Tuesday night, according to a person close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the situation. Burgum was taken to a hospital in Milwaukee, the city where the first GOP debate is being held. The person familiar with the situation said Burgum was out of the hospital as of Wednesday morning but that it was not known whether he would be able to stand during the debate, which is expected to last two hours.
Burgum’s campaign later posted an image of the governor in his younger years playing basketball, with a note saying he appreciated the well wishes after his injury.
“I’ve played lots of pick-up games in my day! This isn’t the first time one has sent me to the ER,” Burgum’s campaign said in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
A representative of the Republican National Committee, which is organizing the debate, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. It is unclear what accommodations the RNC would make for Burgum.
Burgum, 67, was a lesser-known governor when he launched a long-shot campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in June. As governor of North Dakota, he enacted legislation banning nearly all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, as well as a law banning gender-affirming care for minors. He has argued that he can use his underdog status to his advantage.
To qualify for the debate stage — which required in part having at least 40,000 individual donors — Burgum at one point launched a promotion to give a $20 gift card to the first 50,000 people to donate at least $1 to his campaign. The ploy prompted accusations that Burgum, a tech entrepreneur who is independently wealthy, was paying for supporters, though his campaign maintained that the move was legal.
The other GOP candidates who qualified for and plan to appear on the debate stage Wednesday night are former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, former vice president Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
Former president Donald Trump intends to skip the debate and instead release a prerecorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.