Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez defended on Sunday the criteria to qualify for the party’s next presidential primary debate, calling it a “fair bar” for the White House hopefuls to meet.
Perez’s comments come ahead of the upcoming Democratic debate on Thursday, where 10 candidates meeting the required 2 percent support in four qualifying polls and 130,000 unique donors will be on stage in Houston, Texas. The criteria to qualify for Thursday’s debate increased from the previous two, where 20 candidates sparred in two debates over consecutive nights.
“The DNC’s process is stifling debate at a time when we need it most,” said Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who did not to qualify for the third round debate.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who also did not qualify for the debate, argued that “these DNC debate rules have turned this primary into the ‘The Hunger Games’ — each step of this seems to be all about getting donors.”
While the criticism is not new – the DNC faced similar jabs earlier this year when many of the longer-shots for the nomination struggled to make the stage at the first and second round of debates – this time around the national party committee is specifically being attacked over the dearth of qualifying polls. Critics say this is unfairly preventing candidates close to qualifying from actually making the stage.