Election 2020

You Didn't Really Think the DNC Would Allow Tulsi Gabbard Into a Debate, Did You?

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Brian Mast (R-Fla.) conduct a news conference in Rayburn Building on May 17, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Social media came alive with speculation Tuesday night as the polls closed around the U.S. and its territories. Tulsi Gabbard won a delegate in the primary election in American Samoa, which should have gained her an invitation to the next televised debate under the rules set out by the DNC.

Those hopes got squashed fast, however.

Seriously, it’s baffling why anyone would vote for any candidate pushed by the DNC after they so blatantly rigged the nominating process. Once again, Tulsi Gabbard gets screwed.

Not so fast. DNC comms director Xochitl Hinojosa:

The way the DNC continues to pretend Tulsi doesn’t exist has been fascinating to watch.

Twitter was less than kind in response.

The DNC set rules in 2019 over who they would invite to any televised debate among their presidential candidates. Ostensibly they did this to gain some control over the 963 candidates who filed to run for the nomination. The DNC being what they are, however, the process has been opened up for rigging. Tulsi Gabbard has routinely gotten the short end of this Democratic stick.

Gabbard has faced attacks from multiple DNC insiders, including Hillary Clinton, who referred to her as a Russian asset. That prompted a $50 million defamation lawsuit from Gabbard. Joe Concha wrote in The Hill in January:

CNN has held more town hall events than any of the three cable news networks over the past few years and continues that programming strategy as we head into the meat of the 2020 campaign.

For the most part, the network has made an effort to provide every candidate on the Democratic side during the primary season with an hourlong stage to answer questions from moderators and voters alike. And that’s what makes CNN’s decision to snub Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) from a series of town halls just days before the New Hampshire primary not only odd but optically nonsensical.

Gabbard has not been invited to a DNC-sanctioned debate since November and has only appeared on stage for four out of the ten debates.

The original rules required a candidate to reach a minimum of 1% in any accredited poll, or earn donations from 65,000 unique donors (and 200 donors in at least 20 states). In his January piece in The Hill, Concha says Gabbard should have qualified easily for the New Hampshire events:

Note: Gabbard is currently polling at 4.8 percent in the RealClearPolitics index of polls in New Hampshire. That puts her ahead of tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang (4.0 percent), businessman Tom Steyer (1.8 percent) and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (no polling available).

So what do these low-polling candidates all have in common?

They all received invites to the CNN New Hampshire town hall.

The most recent poll from American Research Group released out of the state even has Gabbard ahead of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), with the Hawaii congresswoman clocking in at 8 percent to Klobuchar’s 7 percent.

And if we’re just talking CNN-University of New Hampshire polling, Gabbard is at 5 percent, which places her 3 points higher than Steyer and 5 points higher than Patrick, who clocks in a 0.0 percent.

While they’ve continually snubbed Gabbard, the DNC changed the rules in January to allow Michael/Mike Bloomberg onto the stage:

The Democratic National Committee is drastically revising its criteria to participate in primary debates after New Hampshire, doubling the polling threshold and eliminating the individual donor requirement, which could pave the way for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to make the stage beginning in mid-February.

That didn’t exactly work out well for the DNC.

Now they’re changing the rules again, in an obvious attempt to lock Gabbard out for good while they ensure that voters don’t coalesce around Bernie Sanders (again). It’s almost as if the rule of law is malleable for Democrats when things don’t go their way.