News and Commentary

After Blasting ‘Rigged’ Primary, Tulsi Gabbard Decides Against Debate Boycott
Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) announced on Monday that she will be participating in the upcoming Democratic National Committee (DNC) presidential primary debate after publicly considering boycotting the event.

“I will be attending the debate,” Gabbard told her supporters on Twitter. She refrained from providing any further information regarding her decision.

The announcement comes nearly a week after the Hawaii congresswoman revealed that she was mulling over launching her own boycott against the DNC’s “rigged” primary election process and therefore decline to participate in the October 15th debate as a form of protest.

“There are so many of you that I’ve had the opportunity to meet in Iowa and New Hampshire who have expressed to me how frustrated you are that the DNC and the corporate media are essentially trying to usurp your role as voters in choosing who our Democratic nominee will be,” Gabbard said at the time. “I share your concerns.”

“They are attempting to replace the roles of voters in the early states using polling and other arbitrary methods, which are not transparent or democratic, and they’re holding so-called debates, which are really not debates at all but rather commercialized reality television meant to entertain rather than inform or enlighten,” she continued. “The DNC and the corporate media are trying to hijack the entire election process, so in order to bring attention to this serious threat to our democracy and to ensure that your voice is heard, I’m seriously considering boycotting the next debate.”

Gabbard met the DNC’s threshold to qualify for the upcoming debate after failing to qualify for the previous debate in September.

In order to nab a podium on the next debate state in Westerville, Ohio, presidential candidates must have raised campaign donations from no fewer than 130,000 individual donors and receive at least 2% of the vote in four or more polls that have been pre-approved by the DNC.

Gabbard was the twelfth and final presidential hopeful to meet the qualifying benchmark and subsequently accept an invitation onto the debate stage: Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), financier Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang will also be participating.

Gabbard, however, has been an outspoken critic of the DNC’s lack of transparency and arbitrary determination of which polls are deemed eligible for qualification purposes. Her campaign urged the DNC in September to reconsider their criteria and further slammed the organization for hindering conversations “between future leaders of this country.”

“Rep. Gabbard has exceeded the 2% support in 26 national and early state polls, but only two of them are on the DNC’s ‘certified’ list,” Gabbard’s campaign wrote to the DNC. “Many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and The Boston Globe are ranked by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some ‘certified’ polls.”

While the DNC declined to reconsider their benchmarks, Gabbard ultimately received an invitation for October’s debate after a certified poll conducted by Monmouth University shows that the Hawaii congresswoman received 2% support in the early voting state of New Hampshire.