On Super Tuesday, the biggest news seemed to be former Vice President Joe Biden’s somewhat surprising rise back to the top. Add in a few wins by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and the nation was left with a neck and neck race between. In fact, the odds looked so good for both that nearly everyone else has since dropped out.
Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg dropped out on Wednesday after spending nearly a half a billion for his failed campaign. And Senator Elizabeth Warren waited until Thursday for announcing that she too would be leaving the race.
However, there is another contestant, House Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. And she is still very much in it.
While her poll averages and the number of delegates won in recent caucuses are nothing in comparison to either Biden or Bernie, being in the last three does count for something. Besides, she didn’t do too badly on Super Tuesday. She received at least one delegate from American Samoa, where she got 29.3% of the vote.
And this means that she would qualify for the next debate, according to the Democratic National Committee’s latest rule changes.
In February, the DNC announced that it would no longer be requiring each candidate to raise any specific amount of donations. They said it was the most natural way of “leveling the playing field,” according to one New York Times reporter. However, many speculated that the change was the DNC’s way of allowing billionaire Mike Bloomberg to participate in the debates, as he insisted on paying for his campaign himself.
In addition, the Committee said that any candidate who received 12 percent in at least two DNC approved polls in South Carolina, 10 percent in four approved national polls, or at least one delegate in any state or territory would qualify.
By these standards, Gabbard would no doubt qualify.
Of course, soon after it was made known that the Hawaiian congresswoman had won such a delegate, a high-ranking official from the DNC announced that the rules for the upcoming debates might be changing soon.
The director of DNC communications, Xochitl Hinojosa, tweeted, “We have two more debates – of course, the threshold will go up. By the time we have the March debate, almost 2,000 delegates will be allocated. The threshold will reflect where we are in the race, as it always has.”
We have two more debates– of course the threshold will go up. By the time we have the March debate, almost 2,000 delegates will be allocated. The threshold will reflect where we are in the race, as it always has.
— Xochitl Hinojosa (@XochitlHinojosa) March 4, 2020
Does anyone else find it odd that this would be announced only moments after Gabbard had qualified according to the previous ruleset?
Yeah, I thought so.
And apparently, we aren’t the only ones. Social media exploded on Wednesday, calling for Gabbard to be allowed to debate. After all, if she isn’t that much of a threat, what is the harm in allowing her to participate?
Keep in mind that the DNC just changed debate requirements to box out Gabbard after she won a delegate last night. After that and a laundry list of other slights and insults, she has no reason to be loyal to the party.
— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) March 4, 2020
But that’s just it, she is a threat, at least to the establishment Democrats. It’s already been proved.
In the few debates that she has qualified for, she demonstrated a will to fight that left America impressed and Senator Kamala Harris running for cover. Then, after being labeled as a “Russian asset,” she made an enemy of the “queen of warmongers,” Hillary Clinton, even taking her to court.
So it’s no wonder when she qualified this time, the DNC had to make sure she couldn’t hurt them again.
Fox News reported that “Hinojosa did not elaborate on what the new requirements will be, but if Gabbard fails to secure more delegates in next week’s primaries, she could be left out of the next debate in Arizona on March 15.”
But as Don Ford, who is a Democratic strategist, says the DNC shouldn’t be allowed to change the rules after candidates have already qualified.
“You can’t change a threshold after someone qualifies. That is outright cheating. You can change the threshold for the last debate, but changing the one now would be seriously not following their own rules when criteria can already be changed way more easily than any other type of rule. This would be breaking the party and too far.”
And Ford is precisely right.
However, with Warren dropping out on Thursday, Gabbard is now the sole representation for both women and anyone of color, not to mention that she is the only veteran candidate. So not allowing her to participate might be a death wish for the DNC at this point.
But we all know they only make decisions that serve themselves so who knows…