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Doug Burgum says he will participate in Republican debate after tearing Achilles tendon

MILWAULKEE — North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is on crutches after tearing his Achilles tendon while playing basketball but says he will participate in the first GOP debate.

Burgum told reporters in Milwaukee after a walkthrough of the debate site on Wednesday afternoon that he wanted to be on stage and would decide after consulting with his doctors.

Law enforcement officers and military personnel make sacrifices every day, he said; someone who wants to be president should be willing to stand on one leg for two hours. “It’s not Dancing with the Stars,” Burgum said.

Just after 4pm local time, and less than four hours before the debate was to begin, Burgum said on social media: “I’m in.”

The post was accompanied by a photo of Burgum on crutches and his left foot in a boot. The photo appeared to have been taken during his debate walkthrough.

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Burgum’s campaign had played up the possibility that the candidate would not participate. It said Wednesday that he may not be able to physically stand.

The Republican took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to make light of his injury, saying “this isn’t the first time” a pick-up game “has sent me to the ER.” In the post he made no mention of his participation in the debate, the first one for Republican presidential candidates of the election cycle.

Burgum, 67, was taken to a Milwaukee emergency room on Tuesday. CNN first reported the injury.

“Gov. Burgum sustained an injury while playing a pick-up game of basketball with campaign staff,” Mike Nowatzki, communications director for governor’s office told USA TODAY, referring other questions to the campaign.

Burgum is among the eight candidates that qualified by the deadline to be on stage. Former President Donald Trump is skipping the debate and has indicated he will hold a competing event instead.

He met the debate’s donor threshold by giving out $20 gift cards to anyone who donated $1 or more to campaign. Burgum, who had less than 1% support in a recent Morning Consult survey, is largely self-funding his bid.

Burgum has brushed off his low polling, telling USA TODAY in an interview at the end of July that he sees an opening in the race for a candidate with a “fresh face and a different story.”

“Our focus is really on trying to introduce ourselves to the American public, because we’re the least known of any of the candidates who will be on stage, but we think we’ve got some of the best qualifications to actually lead the country.”

Source: USA Today