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Burgum will participate in debate despite Achilles injury

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By Dana Bash, Veronica Stracqualursi and Shania Shelton, CNN

(CNN) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will participate in Wednesday night’s Republican presidential primary debate despite suffering an Achilles injury.

“I’m in,” the 2024 candidate posted on social media along with a photo of him on crutches.

Burgum, 67, suffered a high-grade tear of his Achilles tendon while playing a game of pick-up basketball with his staff Tuesday, CNN first reported earlier Wednesday.

After a walk-through of the debate site on crutches, the governor was evaluated by a Milwaukee sports physician and injury specialist who confirmed the injury and requested he get additional tests on Thursday.

“I think the first piece of good news is tonight’s not a dance contest,” Burgum told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview in Milwaukee. “If this was ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ I’d be scratched from the competition. But it’s a debate. We’re standing at a podium for two hours and I may just have to cowboy up and we’ll just get through it,” he said.

He told CNN that he is not taking any prescription painkillers for his injury.

Other candidates have privately reached out to ask how he’s doing, according to a source familiar with the situation. Republican Sen. Tim Scott and entrepreneur 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 the debate 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 and headline have been updated with additional reporting.

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