MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced Monday that she has decided not to attend the upcoming December debate in California, even if she qualifies for the debate. In a tweet Monday, Gabbard said "for a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th "debate" — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls. I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina."
For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th "debate" — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls. I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina. — Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 10, 2019
ABC News has reached out to the DNC for response to Gabbard's tweet.
Last week, the DNC said the process has been balanced and fair and highlighted the current diversity in the field.
"This has been the most inclusive debate process with more women and candidates of color participating in more debates than billionaires. We are proud of this historic and diverse field with 20 candidates participating in the first two debates and at least 10 candidates in each debate after that. While we are legally required to have objective criteria for each debate, our qualifying criteria has stayed extremely low throughout this entire process," said DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. "Nobody who has failed to reach 4% at this point in the race has gone on to be the nominee, and our debate criteria reflects that. In addition, we have made diversity a priority by requiring that every debate have women and people of color as moderators. We’ve never seen a political party take this many steps to be inclusive."
According to the criteria that the DNC set forth, 2020 presidential candidates must meet the donor threshold of 200,000 unique donors and 4% in four DNC qualified polls for Tuesday's debate. Gabbard had exceeded the donor threshold for the December debate but needs one additional poll to meet the debate criteria.’
This is not the first time Gabbard has been a vocal critical of the DNC’s rules surrounding the debates. Gabbard who previously served as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee raised concerns back in 2016 about candidates not being allowed to participate in issue based debates.
This isn’t the first time Gabbard has been critical of the DNC’s debate rules. After failing to make the debate stage in September, her campaign at the time cited what they describe as several irregularities in the selection and timing of the DNC sponsored polls.
According to the criteria that the DNC set forth, 2020 presidential candidates must meet the donor threshold of 130,000 unique donors and 2% in four DNC qualified polls for Tuesday's debate. Gabbard had exceeded the donor threshold for the September debate but needed two polls to meet the debate criteria.
Gabbard’s campaign had exceeded 2% support in over two dozen polls, but only two of the polls she had at the time were among those included on the DNC’s "certified" list. She has been polling among the bottom tier in such certified polls.
In a press release, the campaign said many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and the Boston Globe, are ranked by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC "certified" polls."
A month later Gabbard qualified to make the debate stage in October but despite making it on the stage, considered boycotting that month’s debate.
Gabbard is the only 2020 contender in the race who has failed to make a debate stage, which happened in September, who has made it back onto the stage which happened in October. At the time Gabbard cited meeting voters in Iowa and New Hampshire who have "expressed to me how frustrated you are that the DNC and corporate media are essentially trying to usurp your role as voters in choosing who our Democratic nominee will be."
Gabbard who is also a major in the Army National Guard has said in recent months that the debate stage wasn’t a requirement for her continuing her candidacy for president. Describing the debates a "so-called debates, which really are not debates at all, but rather commercialized reality television meant to entertain, rather than to inform or enlighten."
Gabbard in recent days has said that she is all in, spending a significant portion of her time in New Hampshire. Gabbard will also be traveling South Carolina later this week to meet with voters in the Palmetto state. She told ABC News "I think it's it's too often lost that voters are the ones who actually determine who our next president is, who our democratic nominee will be and so it's with them that I'm spending my time and focusing my attention."