'We will continue to raise the bar of participation': DNC chair on future debate criteria

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez joins George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" to discuss the upcoming Democratic presidential primary debate.
6:51 | 09/08/19

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Transcript for 'We will continue to raise the bar of participation': DNC chair on future debate criteria
The DNC process is stifling debate at a time when we need it most. We're rewarding celebrity candidates with millions of Twitter followers, billionaires who buy their way on to the debate stage and candidates who have been running for president for years. These rules have created exactly the wrong outcomes and will not help us beat Donald Trump. That's senator Michael Bennett one of the Democrats running for president who didn't meet the DNC's criteria to make the debate on Thursday. Criteria set by Tom Perez. Mr. Chairman thank you for joining us. Thank you. We saw Nate silver and our ABC news poll with the "Washington post." It appears that those top three candidates, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, are pulling away from the rest of the pack. Is that what you expected when you set the criteria for the debates? It's always been up to the voters. From the outset, George, we set transparent rules, set a far bar for people, communicated to the candidates so they know the rules of engagement for this debate coming up. I'm looking forward to working together with ABC. There were 21 polls that counted. You needed to get 2% in four of them. You had to bat a little under .200 to get into this debate stage. Giving that opportunity is helpful. It will be up to the voters to decide who the candidate is. Our process has been the most fair, transparent, inclusive process in the history of a democratic primary. I'm a big fan of Michael Bennett. I worked for him. I campaigned for him. He's a great guy. We're reaching a point where voters are differentiating. That's what it's about. Candidates have to demonstrate progress as we get closer and closer to Iowa and new Hampshire. It's very possible that next month's debate will be back to two night's, correct? We'll see. We set the debate threshold. You need to get to 2% in at least four polls. We will see. Your poll this morning wouldn't change what the make-up would be. We will see what other ones are. As we get to November and December, we'll continue to raise the bar of participation because that's what we've always done. As we get closer and closer, people have to make progress. 2% is a very reasonable bar. A lot of polls right now show several of the democratic candidates beating president trump if the election were held today. A lot of Democrats are concerned that if you don't win back the senate the agenda will be stalled even if Democrats take back the white house. We saw John hickenlooper leave the race and go run for senate in Colorado. Should candidates do that if their campaigns don't take off soon? That will be up to those candidates to decide. I'm bullish about the senate. I was in Colorado this week. I think we have a great chance there with a wide field of candidates. I'm bullish on mark Kelly in Arizona. We've got opportunities in north Carolina where Tillis is under water. In Maine we have a really good field of candidates. Senator Collins is vulnerable. We have opportunities in Iowa, in Montana and elsewhere. I'm very bullish. The opportunity we have, George, in the senate and white house and state houses is that the Republican -- the Republicans are so off to the extreme and the Democrats are fighting for the issues that people care about. Health care is still the number one issue in America. If you have a pre-existing condition, it's Democrats who are on your side. 90% of the American people want background checks and Moscow Mitch went do it. You look at all the issues that matter, 80% of the American people want to help dreamers, but the Republicans won't do it. They've become such an extreme party that we have opportunities in the senate and the house. The reason so many house members on the Republican side are retiring is because they understand that their party has become so extreme. I'm very optimistic about the white house and about the senate and state houses and expanding speaker Pelosi's margins in the U.S. House. We saw Howard Schultz drop his independent bid for the white house this week. Some Democrats are concerned that Tulsi gabbard is considering a third-party run. She says she's ruled it out. There's an argument that Ralph Nader in 2000 and Jill stein in 2016 cost the Democrats the white house. What do you do to stall the third-party run that could hurt the Democrats? We have built a process that's fair and inclusive. I have great respect for Tulsi gabbard. She's won a spirited campaign. She has a lot of supporters. The reason why we've been so inclusive in what we've done and that resulted in 21 candidates in June and July. It's abundantly clear to me, all but one of our very deep and talented field, is not going to make it to the mountain top. My goal was to make sure every candidate who runs and their followers understand their candidate got a fair shake. So that at the end of the day we're together, united around beating Donald Trump and implementing our vision of inclusion and opportunity. I'm confident that congresswoman gabbard isn't going to run as a third party candidate because she said so. She's a talented part of the democratic party family. Everyone in the democratic family is going to come together in Milwaukee and through the election. We understand it's our democracy as we know it that's on the this is hurricane Donald. It's a category 5 storm. In the eye of the storm is our democracy. We need to take our democracy back. All our candidates understand the gravity of the moment. They understand whoever wins they'll support the Democrat. I appreciate what Howard Schultz did. He was a man of his word. He said if I can't win, I'm not going to run. I appreciate that. See you on Thursday in Houston. Look forward to it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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