Next week’s fourth Democratic debate may be missing one qualifying candidate on the stage — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).
In a video message to her supporters on Thursday, she said that she is seriously considering boycotting the next debate, set for Oct. 15 on CNN and co-hosted by The New York Times. She blasted the Democratic National Committee and the “corporate media” for trying to hijack the process.
“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 are holding ‘so-called’ debates, which really are not debates at all, but rather commercialized reality television meant to entertain rather to inform or enlighten.”
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Gabbard said that she will decide in the next few days whether she will skip the debate.
She did not qualify for the third debate, held in September and aired on ABC and Univision, but she did reach the threshold for qualification for next week’s event. She was scheduled to be among a dozen candidates on the debate stage. The DNC is requiring that candidates reach 2% in four approved polls and reach 130,000 unique donors.
A spokesperson for the DNC did not immediately return a request for comment.
The fifth debate, to be held on Nov. 20 in Georgia and to be co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, comes with an even more stringent set of qualifications. It requires that candidates reach at least 3% in four qualifying polls (or 5% in two qualifying state polls) and that they have at least 165,000 unique donors.
“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 in her message.
She has previously been critical of the qualifying process, even though she has participated in the first two Democratic debates, which were spread out over two nights.
Candidate criticism of the debate process is nothing new. In the last cycle, Martin O’Malley, one of Hillary Clinton’s rivals for the nomination, chided the DNC for scheduling the debates on weekend nights, when viewership is much lower, and for not planning more debates. It’s also not unprecedented for a candidate who qualifies for a debate to boycott it. Donald Trump skipped a planned Fox News debate in 2016 after complaining that Megyn Kelly, who was then at the network, was serving as one of the moderators.
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