The Democrats running for president will meet for their 11th debate later this month, but a new promise of higher qualification requirements could exclude one candidate who would have made the cut under previous rules.
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who won one delegate in the American Samoa primary on Super Tuesday, met the mark set by the Democratic National Committee for the three previous debates, but DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa tweeted Tuesday night that they are upping the requirements going forward.
“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,” Hinojosa tweeted. “The threshold will reflect where we are in the race, as it always has.”
Candidates who had at least one pledged delegate automatically qualified for the debates that took place in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina earlier this year. 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.
Gabbard was a star of one of the early debates, when she took Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to task for her record as a prosecutor. The Hawaii congresswoman once served as the DNC’s vice chairwoman but has since criticized the organization, recently blasting them for changing debate rules in a way that allowed former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg to participate while still keeping her out.