MILWAUKEE — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will participate in the first Republican presidential debate even though he injured his Achilles’ tendon playing basketball Tuesday.
“I’m in,” Burgum tweeted Wednesday afternoon, hours before the debate’s start time, alongside a photo of him using crutches and wearing a walking boot.
Burgum, 67, was evaluated by a sports physician and an injury specialist who confirmed the Achilles’ injury and requested additional tests Thursday, his team said. Sources close to Burgum said earlier Wednesday that he suffered a high-grade tear in a pickup basketball game with campaign staff members here Tuesday and was admitted to a local emergency room.
“Doug feels very strongly that his voice is necessary on the stage this evening, and has said he will fight through the pain and challenge standing in order to make that happen,” the campaign said in a statement confirming that he will participate.
For several hours Wednesday, Burgum’s injury created a sense of uncertainty around the first debate, raising doubts that he would be able to stay onstage for the two-hour event.
“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 posted earlier Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter, along with a photo of him as a young man playing basketball. “Appreciate all the well-wishes!”
CNN was first to report the injury.
Missing the first debate would have been a setback for Burgum, a little-known candidate who is counting on the prime-time forum to boost his name recognition and likability. He was one of eight Republicans to qualify for the event, which the front-runner, former President Donald Trump, is skipping.
Burgum made qualifying for the debate a major priority in the first weeks of his campaign. Tapping into his personal wealth — he’s a former software executive who once sold a company to Microsoft — he offered gift cards to small-dollar contributors in an effort to meet the donor threshold required to participate.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com