ND Gov Doug Burgum to participate in GOP presidential debate after suffering leg injury

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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum says he will participate in Wednesday night’s Republican presidential primary debate after suffering a leg injury. 

Burgum is one of eight presidential hopefuls set to appear tonight in the first Republican presidential primary debate hosted by Fox News at 9 p.m. ET.

Burgum suffered a leg injury in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Tuesday night while playing a game of pick-up basketball with his staff, Fox News has confirmed Wednesday.

His campaign said earlier that Burgum would decide whether to participate in the debate after visiting a doctor. 

‘Think of law enforcement, think of military, what they do for all of us,’ Burgum told a reporter. ‘I mean, if you’re going to lead this country, you ought to be able to stand on one leg for 2 hours. You know, it’s not Dancing with the Stars. I mean, come on.’ 

Asked whether he would be on the debate stage tonight, Burgum said he would find out after seeing a doctor. 

‘You know, all I saw last night was an emergency room doc,’ Burgum said. 

The injury Tuesday night forced Burgum to be sent to a local hospital’s emergency room. As of Wednesday, he has been discharged, his campaign says.

Burgum is a dark horse in the race, lacking the name recognition that other candidates enjoy. He qualified for the debate by earning 3% support in the Fox News Iowa poll but has otherwise remained a relatively obscure figure in national politics.

Wednesday night’s debate is an opportunity for Burgum – who’s not well known outside his home state – to grab more attention from GOP primary voters. 

‘It’s obviously an opportunity for us because…of the eight candidates who’ve made the stage, we’re the least well known. By definition that gives us the most upside,’ Burgum emphasized in a Fox News Digital interview a week and a half ago at the Iowa State Fair.

The billionaire software entrepreneur has poured more than $10 million into the race from his own bank account and spent $8 million in the last quarter alone.

Up to $760,000 of that spend went to donors who accepted his offer to send a $20 gift card to any $1+ donor, a ploy that saw him reach the fundraising threshold for the first debate in record time this cycle.

Before becoming the 33rd governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum established himself as a successful businessman in the software industry. 

Burgum, 67, steered his one-time small business, Great Plains Software, into a $1 billion software company. His business – and its North Dakota-based workers – were eventually acquired by Microsoft, and Burgum stayed on board as a senior vice president.

In 2016, the then first-time candidate and long shot convincingly topped a favored GOP establishment contender to secure the Republican nomination in North Dakota before going on to a landslide victory in the gubernatorial general election in the solidly red state. Burgum was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2020 to a second term as governor.

‘Governor Burgum is looking forward to sharing his focus on the economy, energy and national security at the August debate,’ Burgum campaign spokesman Lance Trover said last month. ‘In less than 7 weeks, Governor Burgum has exceeded all the requirements for the debate. As a Governor and business leader Doug knows how to fix the economy, unleash American energy and win the Cold War with China.’  

Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo, Rémy Numa, and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

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