A congresswoman who has been a critic of administration policy and the DNC’s limited schedule of debates said she was disinvited from tonight’s Dem debate — even though she’s a vice-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
“I have been pretty vocal about calling out for more debate debates. I have been calling for more debates to give the American people more opportunity to hear from these presidential candidates, to listen to what they have got to say, to hold them accountable for their views and their positions,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) told CNN last night. “Because that differentiated from the decision that the chairwoman made from the DNC, I was told that I was no longer welcome to come to the debate.”
“Debbie’s chief had called mine and basically spoke about an interview that I had had talking about the need and the call that the American people are having for more debates, for democracy, for increasing the engagement that we need in our society as we look to see who will lead our country into the future.”
Gabbard said “the prevailing message of that was because I continued to call for more debates, that I should not go to the debate there in Las Vegas.”
“…The issue here is not about me saying boo-hoo, I’m going to miss the party. The issue here is one of democracy, of freedom of speech and defending that which so many have sacrificed and given their lives for.”
An Iraq war veteran, the congresswoman was recently promoted to the rank of major in the Army National Guard.
DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) responded today on MSNBC, charging that Gabbard’s version of events is “simply not the case.”
“The congresswoman was asked to focus on our candidates on the issues that are important to Americans to draw a contrast with the Republicans,” Wasserman Schultz said. “We are a big tent party and welcome those opinions. But this debate and every debate going forward is about the issues. She is continuing to focus on process, which she’s entitled to do, but we asked her if she could focus on those issues and she chose not to come because I guess she can’t.”
“What we said, as my staff communicated to her staff, is that she needed to focus on the issues and make a commitment to do that, and in fact, she said yesterday in a news interview that if she came, she would be a distraction and so she chose not to come.”
Afterward, Gabbard told MSNBC that Wasserman Schultz’s version is “just not true.”
She said after she initially called for more than six DNC-sanctioned debates, “the very next day got a message saying that if I’m going to continue talking about that, that I shouldn’t go to the debate. It’s not surprising to me that she is saying things that aren’t true.”
“About a month ago, shortly after I called for more debates, the chairwoman said publicly that she had communicated and consulted with vice chairs and officers of the DNC prior to making her decision, both about the number of debates as well as this retribution policy of the exclusivity clause, of punishing our presidential candidates if they participate in any other debate outside of the six sanctioned debates,” Gabbard said.
“The fact is, there was no communication or no consultation with the vice chairs and officers, of which I am one, so it’s unfortunate that she continues to say things that aren’t true.”