News and Commentary

Tulsi’s 2020 Campaign Urges DNC To Adjust Debate Criteria As She Sits Just Shy Of Qualifying
Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the Everytown for Gun Safety Presidential Gun Sense Forum, in Des Moines, Iowa
Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The presidential campaign for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) urged the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday to reconsider the criteria to qualify for the upcoming 2020 Democratic primary debates.

In order to nab a podium on the next debate stage, presidential candidates must raise campaign donations from no less 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.

While Gabbard has already met the fundraising threshold, she still needs two more qualifying polls before she will receive an invitation onto the debate stage. Gabbard’s campaign, however, took issue with which polls the DNC deemed certifiable and called on the organization to revise the list of which polls would be considered.

“The DNC set a threshold that candidates must meet at 2% in four DNC-certified polls in order to qualify for the third and fourth Democratic primary debates,” the campaign wrote in a statement. “However, the DNC has not released their criteria for selecting the 16 polling organizations they deem ‘certifiable.'”

“Rep. Gabbard has exceeded 2% support in 26 national and early state polls, but only two of them are on the DNC’s ‘certified’ list,” the campaign continued. “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 DNC ‘certified’ polls.”

The campaign further pointed to a RealClearPolitics article titled “Gabbard Victimized by DNC’s Dubious Debate Criteria.” In it, author Michael Tracey contends that the Hawaii congresswoman is “on the verge of being excluded from the next Democratic presidential debate on the basis of criteria that appear increasingly absurd.”

“The Democratic National Committee has the responsibility to facilitate more conversations between the future leaders of this country, not less,” the campaign said. “Notably, there have been only four qualifying polls released after the second Democratic primary debate compared with fourteen qualifying polls released in the month after the first Democratic primary debate.”

Gabbard is currently on the tail end of a two-week leave of absence from her presidential campaign, while she reports for active duty in Indonesia with the Hawaiian Army National Guard. She will be returning to the campaign trail on August 25, just three days before the deadline to qualify for the next Democratic primary debate.

“The Gabbard campaign is calling on the DNC to hold true to their promise and make adjustments to the process now to ensure transparency and fairness,” the campaign said. “Crucial decisions on debate qualifications that impact the right of the American people to have the opportunity to participate fully in the Democratic process should not be made in secret by party bosses.”

“For the sake of democracy, those decisions must be made openly, with clear and consistent standards and a sufficient window of opportunity for the candidates to demonstrate genuine grassroots momentum and enthusiasm,” the campaign added.