Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) revealed on Thursday that she will not run for president on a third party ticket if she fails to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
“I will not, no,” Gabbard replied to CNN news anchor Jim Sciutto when asked if she would run as an independent candidate. “I’ve ruled that out.”
“I’m going to continue to focus on moving our campaign forward,” she continued. “Continuing this grassroots campaign, continuing to deliver our message to the American people and ask for their support.”
Gabbard’s remarks come only days after the Hawaii congresswoman failed to qualify for the third Democratic primary debate in Houston, Texas. In order to make it onto the debate stage, candidates must have raised donations from at least 130,000 unique donors and receive more than 2% support in four or more polls that have been pre-approved by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
While Gabbard was able to quickly meet the fundraising threshold, she was ultimately two polls short of receiving an invitation to the debate stage.
During the final two weeks to qualify, Gabbard took a leave of absence from her presidential campaign in order to report for active duty with the Hawaiian Army National Guard. While abroad in Indonesia for her service, she was unable to monitor or check in with her campaign, and solely relied on her staff to continue campaign operations.
Accordingly, Gabbard’s campaign team issued a statement on Friday urging the DNC to reconsider the polling criteria required to qualify for the debates.
“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 wrote. “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.”
In the press release, the campaign also pointed to a Real Clear Politics article aptly titled “Gabbard Victimized by DNC’s Dubious Debate Criteria,” where journalist Michael Tracey argues that the Hawaiian lawmaker is on “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 statement said. “Notably, there have been only four qualifying polls released after the second Democratic primary debate compared with the fourteen qualifying polls released in the month after the first Democratic primary debate.”
The DNC subsequently refused to adjust their polling benchmarks and allow Gabbard to participate.
Gabbard made waves during the second debate after she challenged Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) record on criminal prosecutions. The exchange was largely considered the to be one of the night’s most critical moments and fruitful lines of attack. In the aftermath, Harris took a significant hit in the polls.