North Dakota governor and Republican presidential candidate Doug Burgum suffered a high-grade tear of his Achilles tendon while playing a game of pick-up basketball with his staff Tuesday, requiring him to be on crutches, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Burgum, 67, will attend the candidates’ walk-through of the debate event site Wednesday afternoon and then decide whether he’s physically able to participate in the debate itself, the source said.
Burgum is focused on the debate, the Republican Party’s first of this primary season, and understands that as much as he’d like to participate, he would have to walk on stage and stand behind a podium for two hours, the source said.
“He is a total cowboy and isn’t phased by injuries and pain. His disposition is focused and tough. We’re going to see what happens at the walk-through and throughout the day,” the source told CNN. The governor is a lifelong athlete and is familiar with sports injuries, the source added.
Other candidates have privately reached out to ask how he’s doing, according to the source. Republican Sen. Tim Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy posted on social media wishing the governor well.
Burgum is one of the eight candidates in the debate lineup. The event will air on Fox News at 9 p.m. ET.
The GOP governor, a wealthy former software executive, has described himself as the least-known contender on Wednesday night’s stage. He said Sunday on NBC that he’ll have succeeded in the debate “if we get a chance to explain who we are, what we’re about and why we’re running.”
He reached the Republican National Committee’s 40,000-unique-donors threshold to qualify for the debate stage in July – he attracted donors by giving away gift cards worth $20 in exchange for $1 donations. He later met the polling requirements and signed the pledge to back the eventual GOP presidential nominee, both also required by the RNC to participate in Wednesday night’s debate.
Burgum, who is currently serving his second term as North Dakota governor, announced in June his run for president in 2024 with considerably less name recognition than others vying for the GOP nomination. His campaign is primarily focused on the economy, energy and national security.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.