Democratic Debate: Where Is Tulsi Gabbard and Why Isn't She Here Despite Still Being in the Race?

Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate in Washington, D.C., will mark the first time that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders get to square off against each other one on one. But aside from the former vice president and Vermont senator, there remains a third candidate: Tulsi Gabbard.

The Hawaii congresswoman is still in the race, despite amassing just two delegates and continuing to appear at the bottom of polls. Per the rules of the Democratic National Committee, candidates must have 20 percent of awarded delegates to have qualified for the debate, thus her absence.

Gabbard's continued White House bid amid a dismal primary performance is a lingering question that continues to have many scratching their heads over.

"You'll know when I let you know," she told Newsweek on Wednesday when asked about when she plans to bow out. Prompted if there's a particular reason she's remained in the running this long, Gabbard said: "We're putting out a statement. You can check that out."

Tulsi Gabbard absent debate presidential race
Democratic Presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) walks down the steps of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol after the last votes of the week on January 10 in Washington, DC. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty

A statement was not released by her campaign. A Newsweek inquiry went unanswered.

By way of tweets and appearing on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight, the combat veteran said she remains in the race to influence America's foreign policy and to promote her anti-war stance.

"I'm continuing to run for the same reason I originally began this race: to bring about a sea change in our longstanding foreign policy of carrying out regime change wars, end the new cold war & nuclear arms race, and invest the trillions wasted in such wars into the American ppl," Gabbard wrote on Twitter.

She has lobbied on Twitter for Sanders and Biden to advocate for her to be included in Sunday's debate. And in an email to supporters on Thursday, Gabbard ridiculed members of the media for questioning why she has yet to end her campaign.

"The corporate media often speculates about my motives for running, as if it's some kind of dark mystery," said Gabbard, who is not seeking re-election this year. "They struggle to understand how someone could make decisions, as I always do, based on principle and conviction—rather than political calculations or the so-called 'horse race.'"

Though her candidacy at this point in the primary process—given her lack of delegates—is unusual, it is not unheard of.

Then-Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich officially ended his presidential bid just days before the 2004 Democratic National Convention, despite long before that having no mathematical chance at clenching the nomination. John Kerry went on to become the nominee.

Kucinich's reason was similar to that of Gabbard.

''The reason I have not dropped out of the race is that we may have a nominee, but the future direction of the Democratic Party has not yet been determined," he told The New York Times at the time.

This chart below, provided by Statista, shows the delegate count among Democratic candidates as of Thursday morning.

Democratic primary delegate count
This chart shows the delegate count among Democratic candidates as of Thursday at 6 a.m. ET.
Democratic Debate: Where Is Tulsi Gabbard and Why Isn't She Here Despite Still Being in the Race? | Politics