Tulsi Gabbard Says Political Elite, Corporate Media Are 'Trying to Erase' Her Presidential Candidacy by Keeping Her Out of Debates

Hawaii Congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard issued another rebuke of the political elite and the corporate media on Sunday morning, claiming they were "trying to erase" her candidacy by preventing her from appearing in the upcoming debates.

Gabbard--who is the only remaining candidate besides former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to not suspend her campaign--has repeatedly criticized the Democratic establishment and the media throughout her presidential bid. After the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced the latest rules to qualify for the new debate, she argued that the criteria was intended to keep her from appearing with Sanders and Biden.

"49% of voters say #LetTulsiDebate. But the political elite/corporate media are trying to erase my candidacy," the congresswoman tweeted on Sunday, sharing a video clip of an interview with Fox News. "They don't want a debate on ending regime change wars, the new cold war & nuclear arms race, and instead investing the trillions wasted on such wars into the American ppl," she added.

49% of voters say #LetTulsiDebate. But the political elite/corporate media are trying to erase my candidacy. They don’t want a debate on ending regime change wars, the new cold war & nuclear arms race, and instead investing the trillions wasted on such wars into the American ppl. pic.twitter.com/xvKUA9FL9e

— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 15, 2020

A poll by Rasmussen released Wednesday found, as Gabbard noted, that 49 percent of voters believed the congresswoman should be allowed to join Sanders and Biden in the debates.

In the interview, Gabbard said that the DNC and its corporate media "partners" have been attempting to "shut me down" since she launched her candidacy last year. She said they have tried to "smear my character, media blackouts, trying to keep the American people from hearing my message."

According to the most recent Real Clear Politics average of national polls, Gabbard has support from about 2.3 percent of American voters. Polling by Morning Consult shows her slightly higher, at 3 percent nationwide. Gabbard has also won 2 delegates thus far in the primary and caucus process.

The rules to qualify for the debate, which will take place on Sunday evening at 8 p.m. E.T., were released earlier this month. In order to appear on the debate stage, candidates were required to have won support from at least 20 percent of the delegates awarded thus far. As a result, Gabbard has not qualified for the debate.

Gabbard and other former contenders have raised concerns about the DNC's threshold for appearing in the debates. Throughout the past year, the DNC has consistently adjusted the requirements to qualify. Initially, the bar was quite low, based on a combination of polling and fundraising numbers. This level was increased steadily ahead of each debate in an apparent attempt to winnow down the field of candidates appearing on stage.

Ahead of the debate criteria's announcement, Xochitl Hinojosa, the DNC's communications director, said that the requirements had always been updated to reflect the state of the race.

"By the time we have the March debate, almost 2,000 delegates will be allocated," Hinojosa wrote on Twitter. "The threshold will reflect where we are in the race, as it always has."

Tulsi Gabbard
Democratic presidential candidate Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) holds a Town Hall meeting on Super Tuesday Primary night on March 3 in Detroit, Michigan Bill Pugliano/Getty

The DNC faced significant criticism in January as it updated its debate criteria in a way that gave billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg a chance to qualify. While the requirements had always included a donor threshold, Bloomberg was self-funding his campaign making him ineligible for the stage.

As the primaries and caucuses began, the DNC changed the rules to only require qualifying candidates to have won at least one pledged delegate or to be polling at 10 percent or higher in four national polls in order to participate. Candidates could additionally qualify by getting at least 12 percent in two approved polls.

"To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong," Sanders' campaign senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement at the time. "That's the definition of a rigged system."

Bloomberg eventually dropped out following Super Tuesday last month, after failing to win any states despite spending more than $500 million on his presidential campaign. He then endorsed Biden.